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Dev Psychol. 2007 Nov;43(6):1347-59.

The loyal member effect: on the preference for ingroup members who engage in exclusive relations with the ingroup.

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  • 1Department of Developmental and Socialization Psychology, Universit√† di Padova, Padova, Italy. castelli.luigi@unipd.it


The goal of this article was to investigate an indirect form of intergroup differentiation in children in the context of racial attitudes: the preference for ingroup members who interact positively with other ingroup members rather than with outgroup members. Study 1 confirmed this general hypothesis with preschool and 1st-grade children, demonstrating that respondents preferred the ingroup member who played only with other ingroup members, evaluated this child more positively, and felt more similar to him or her. Studies 2 and 3 tested the boundary conditions of the phenomenon. Study 4 analyzed developmental changes demonstrating that the effect is no longer observed among 9- to 11-year-old children. Overall, these studies suggest that engaging in positive interactions with the outgroup might have its costs in terms of a relative devaluation and rejection by one's peers. Results are discussed by stressing the importance of intragroup processes for the regulation of intergroup relations among very young children.

(c) 2007 APA.

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