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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2004 Mar;30(3):365-83.

Criticizing groups from the inside and the outside: an identity perspective on the intergroup sensitivity effect.

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School of Psychology, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia.


Research on group criticism has demonstrated that criticisms are received less defensively when made by an ingroup member than when made by an outsider (the intergroup sensitivity effect). Three experiments tested the extent to which this effect is driven by social identity concerns or by judgments of how experienced the source of the criticism is. In Experiments 1 and 2, Australians who criticized Australia (ingroup critics) were met with less defensiveness than were foreigners who criticized Australia (outgroup critics), regardless of the amount of experience the foreigner had with Australia. Furthermore, the effects of speaker type on evaluations were mediated by perceptions of the extent to which the criticisms were intended to be constructive but not by perceptions of experience. Finally, Experiment 3 indicated that although experience does not help outgroup critics, a lack of experience can hurt ingroup critics. Recommendations are provided as to how people can reduce defensiveness when making group criticisms.

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