October 21, 2004

MBA 412

Individual Paper

“Disconfirming Intergroup Evaluations: Asymmetric Effects for

In-Groups and Out-Groups”

 

Introduction: 

This paper will analyze the article, “Disconfirming Intergroup Evaluations: Asymmetric Effects for In-Groups and Out-Groups,” from the 2004 publication of The Journal of Social Psychology, written by Richard J. Crisp and Joanne K. Nicel. This paper will first indicate whether the article is descriptive, normative, or predictive. Next, it will set out the argument from the article in conclusion/premises format. Then, it will evaluate the article from a critical thinking perspective, using as a guide the elements of critical thinking. Finally, a conclusion will be reached regarding whether the article is well written from a critical thinking perspective.

 

Article Type: 

After a discussion with Dr. Taylor, and by our order of elimination, this article falls directly into one of the three categories of descriptive, normative, or predictive. The article does not present information in the format of “this will cause that”, so therefore it is not predictive. Additionally, it does not have the characteristics of a normative article, as it does not state that there is a “best” way to do things. Therefore, it was determined that this article is mainly descriptive. It discusses, in great detail, the findings of other research results related to this study compiled, the method used for the study, and also explains the final conclusions.

 

Article Identification: 

In this section the author’s conclusion will be set out along with the premises that lead to it. The premises will be supported by evidence from the article.

 

Conclusion:  Managers can improve group performance through the use of positive or negative influences on team attitudes.

 

Premise One: We all possess biases

Evidence: There is a fundamental, preconscious association of positivity

      with in-groups

Evidence: There is a fundamental, preconscious association of negativity

      with out-groups

Evidence: Automatic responses are acquired by long-term associative

      learning

Evidence: Biases take on the form of blatant and explicit or convert and implicit and depend upon the person and situation

 

Premise Two: These biases influence how people process information about groups

Evidence: Individuals have rigid and homogenous views of particular groups which cause stereotyping

Evidence: Social exclusion can occur in assigning a small set of

     personality characteristics to groups

Evidence: Overgeneralization occurs causing unfair treatment of groups

Evidence: In-groups are groups to which a person belongs and have

     inherent, and automatic, positivity associated with them

Evidence: Out-groups are groups to which someone does not belong and

     have inherent negativity

 

Premise Three: Negative information biases are more influential on attitudes towards teams at the preconscious level

Evidence: A general negativity bias in information appears to make exposure to disconfirming information effective in changing attitudes toward the in-group

Evidence: A general negativity bias in information appears to make exposure to disconfirming information not effective in changing attitudes toward the out-group

 

Premise Four: Positive information biases are more influential on attitudes towards teams at the conscious level

Evidence: Exposure to out-group-plus-positive traits increased attribution of positive traits to the out-group at the conscious level

Evidence: Exposure to in-group-plus-negative traits had no clear effects for the in-group at the conscious level

Evidence: Concerns with social norms influence an individual to modify their explicit responses via the application of positive traits to out-groups

Evidence: Exposure to disconfirming information can help break down rigid and homogeneous attitudes towards others

Evidence: Contact with positive information regarding out-groups can harmonize intergroup relations

 

Article Evaluation: 

In this section of the paper the article will be evaluated in light of the elements of critical thinking and utilizing the critical thinking wheel as a guide for evaluation.

 

Purpose:  The purpose of the article was to extend previous work that has explored how to improve intergroup relations, reduce prejudice, and promote social inclusion. This purpose is clearly implied in the article, and is stated on page 266 under the subsection of “Applications and Implications.” This also directly relates to the first line of the “Abstract” which as another way of stating the purposes and asserts, “The authors examined whether a fundamental bias in the way people process information has implications for efforts to improve intergroup relations.” The purpose is also justifiable with data collected from research, both past and present, and the current results from the authors’ experiment that is described throughout the article.

 

Issue:  The issue is stated on page 265, the third last page of the article, which states the question as whether there is an effectiveness of, “…direct exposure to stereotype-disconfirming information on evaluations in an intergroup setting,” while keeping in mind the basic negativity bias in information processing.  This it is clearly stated and unbiased. The issue does do justice to the complexity of the issue as it also notes related outcomes from other past research utilizing different approaches. The issue is also relevant to the stated purpose as the issue presents a way (exposure to stereotype-disconfirming information) to affect the purpose (improve intergroup relations, reduce prejudice, and promote social inclusion).

 

Information:  The information in the article is relevant and essential to addressing the issue. The writers cite relevant evidence, past experiments and research findings of related studies, and information that is essential to the issue. The information is overall verifiable. However, some of the author’s concepts are so new that there is little outside research to directly support the authors’ findings. Since this article was written this year, other research that has similar findings were reviewed that parallel to the authors’ research. For example, two experiments were done examining Germans’ attitudes towards the Poles and female single parents’ attitudes towards the competencies of single parents to raise children. Both experiments showed that inclusion in a superordinate category had a more negative influence on attitudes towards the out-group when relative in-group prototypicality is high rather than low (Waldzus and Mummendey, 2004). This coincides with the authors’ that people view themselves as the in-group and will view information they see as negative to relate to the out-group. However, in the study presented in the article, the effects of negative traits were not paired with out-groups so those findings were not proven in this article.

 

Another example was found in a study completed on Jewish and Arab students, it was found that intergroup biases occurred in both groups as each viewed themselves as the in-group. However, when the groups compared themselves on a national level, the Jewish students viewed their group more favorably while the Arab students viewed their group as equal (Yohanan, 1999). This relates to the authors’ conclusion that people will view themselves as in-group members which will correlate with a direct positivity. However, this study suggests that one group viewed themselves as equal to another group. While this still reflects an element of positivity, they do not view the other group negatively as an out-group which is an extension of information that the authors do not include in their conclusion.

 

Furthermore, another study completed entailed the interethnic friendships of African Americans and Latinos to investigate implicit and explicit biases. Individuals who had friends in the target groups resulted in less implicit prejudice than those without friend in the defined group (Aberson, Shoemaker, and Tomolillo, 2004). This supports the concept of intergroup contact to improve intergroup attitudes which is related to the concept presented by the authors of exposure to disconfirming information to change homogeneous attitudes. 

 

A final study relates to the concept presented by the authors regarding the basic negativity bias. This study investigated the service sector and how people came to information regarding a service where there was little information available to the consumer. It was found that positive information about a single factor of the business will lead to a positive inference and that negative information about a single factor of the business will lead to a negative inference. While this study states that it is common that the negativity will prevail stronger in inferences, this study states that positive information hold a stronger effect on the service sector (Folkes and Patrick, 2003). In comparison both articles state the effects of a positivity and negativity bias, but Crisp and Nicel state that the negativity bias holds a much stronger influence. 

 

Overall, the article is complete enough to provide the reader with a good background of the topic and support for the author’s conclusion since it provides past research concepts and results. However, it was very difficult to verify a lot of the information as the article is so recent. This issue was discussed with Dr. Taylor who helped in searching for other criteria for verification such as “positivity effect”.

 

Concepts:  This was an article/argument that needed to utilize concepts to be effective. The authors overall did a mediocre job of clarifying key concepts when necessary. For example, there is a list of key words that are stated upfront in the abstract of the article. These terms were not specifically defined by the authors but were concepts put forth by their research. The authors would either define terms by use of, “for example…”, or would use parenthesis and state an example (i.e.), or would define a concept based on other research definitions. Some key terms the authors defined were:

 

§         In-group – A group to which someone belongs

§         Out-group – A group to which someone does not belong

§         Stereotypes – Rigid and homogenous views of particular groups

§         Social exclusion – The characterizing of an individual based on his/her classification

§         Implicit prejudice – Include such things as institutional racism, defensive body language, or the under representation of minority groups in position of corporate or political power

 

There were a few instances where the authors defined a concept with another word/concept that, if also defined, would have benefited the reader. For example, the authors used egalitarianism as an example of social norms but fail to describe what the concept of egalitarianism entails. Also, the authors define intergroup contexts with a “vis-à-vis” example, which does not provide a true definition and researching this concept outside the article resulted in little clarity.

There were some key words used often by the authors that were not defined within the article such as:

 

§         Bias A leaning of the mind; propensity or prepossession toward an object or view, not leaving the mind indifferent; bent; inclination (Webster’s Dictionary)

§         Preconscious – Of or pertaining to a state before consciousness (Webster’s Dictionary)

§         Categorical perception – This term was used as subtitles by the authors but was never directly defined. Searching for definitions with Dr. Taylor through the Milner Library databases provided no clear answer. It can be inferred from the article that it relates to how individuals evaluate their own in-groups or out-groups.

§         Natural confound – Searching for a definition of this concept lead to little information. Searching through multiple databases on the Milner Library Site produced very limited articles that did not pertain to the topic presented and therefore were not helpful in deriving a true definition of this term.

§         Asymmetrical – This word has multiple definitions and it is hard to establish which definition the authors are alluding to. The Encarta Dictionary has five definitions, two of which could apply to this situation but don’t help with the description of the concept in the article. It is defined as not being symmetrical or where two things have relationships to one another but they are not the same relationship. This lack of definition from the authors’ perspectives makes the article harder to comprehend

§         Egalitarian – Favoring social equality; believing in the equality of all people (Webster’s Dictionary)

§         Disconfirming – Establishing as invalid or untrue (Webster’s Dictionary)

 

Therefore, the element of concepts is critical to the determination of whether the article is critically well written. Overall, the authors did not do a good job of defining and giving examples of key concepts. It would have been helpful to the reader if some of the more basis terms were clearly defined by the authors’ own explanations so the reader is not left researching definitions and guessing which definition the authors are utilizing.

 

Assumptions:  The authors make a few assumptions.  The first two assumptions are stated in the subsection of “Limitations” on pages 264-266 and are clearly stated. First, they assume that the same results they found in a laboratory setting will occur in the real world.  Second, the authors assume that the same results will be found when using categories of prejudice other than the one used in their experiment (young and elderly). Additionally, the authors assume that their findings can be used in direct relation to reduce prejudice in intergroup biases by creating intervention strategies. Finally, the authors assume that the past research, which they used to build their argument and current research on, is valid and true. This is a general assumption that applies to most researchers. The authors do show sensitivity to what they are taking for granted because they state two of the assumptions clearly in the text of the article. Also, the authors’ state multiple times that further research will be required in order to produce supplementary information to expand the conclusions and its utilization.

 

Points of View:  The writers’ show sensitivity to the main points of view considered in the article.  Points of view considered include those of other researchers, individuals who associate with in-groups, individuals who have a view of out-groups, and the public in terms of any team that is dealing with the issue of prejudice. Therefore, it applies to society at large as teams are not only created in business contexts, but in all aspects of life. The reader comes away from the article with some insight as to how this topic is applicable to anyone in any type of team.

 

Implications:  The article describes the possible implications and consequences related to its conclusion. The authors describe some positive implications of their position. First, the authors believe their findings represent a way to reduce prejudice. Second, creating intervention strategies from these findings can reduce biased evaluations, which would influence evaluations of in-groups and out-groups. There are additionally some negative implications the authors indicate. First, positive disconfirming information will have little to no effect on subtle forms of prejudice. Second, it will not be easy to change implicit negative evaluations of out-groups by simple repeated exposure to positive disconfirming information. The final negative implication the authors allude to is that their results are not the ultimate answer and more research will need to be developed and refined.

 

Inferences/Conclusion:  The main conclusion is that there are ways to affect and influence group attitudes by exposure to positive and negative experiences.  The authors also conclude that this will in turn improve intergroup relations, reduce prejudice, and change stereotyping. The inferences that lead to the conclusion are supported by appropriate and convincing evidence and translate into how managers can use this information to influence teams’ attitudes and improve group performance. The paper was well organized but key definitions of concepts would have strengthened the article to place the reader on the same page as the authors. However, the authors make a convincing argument, and provide references to other research to support their study’s findings. Overall, this was a good article but the weakness of the concepts section resulted in more effort on the part of the reader to understand the entirety of the article since many key terms were lacking appropriate definitions.

 

Overall Conclusion: 

The article is well written from a critical thinking perspective. The purpose and issue are clear, relevant and unbiased. The information seems to be accurate and is relevant to the argument. However, the newness of some concepts made it difficult to verify key terms which resulted in relying on past work that produced similar results. The article is extremely focused on concepts. This is the one main section of the article where there is a lack of clarity and description. While the authors gave good definitions of concepts they defined, the lack of other key definitions hurts the understandability of the article to its reader. The authors were very clear in setting out their assumptions and included two of assumptions as limitations noted in their method. Relevant points of view are well considered and the reader can see how the effects can be experienced in any type of group experience. Finally, the inferences and conclusion that they lead to are well supported, and clearly set. Overall, this is a good piece of writing from a critical thinking perspective.

 

Bibliography:

Aberson, Christopher, Carl Shoemaker, and Christina Tomolillo. “Implicit Bias and Contact: The Role of Interethnic Friendship.” The Journal of Social Psychology 144:3 (June 2004): 335-347.

 

Encarta World English Dictionary. 10th Edition

 

Eshel, Yohanan. “Effects of in-group bias on planned encounters of Jewish and Arab youth.” The Journal of

Social Psychology 139: 6 (Dec. 1999): 768-783.

 

Folkes, Valerie and Vanessa Patrick. “The positivity effect in perceptions of service: Seen one, seen them all?” Journal of Consumer Research 30:1 (Jun. 2003): 125.

 

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. 2004.

 

Waldzus, Steven and Amelie Mummendey. “Inclusion in a subordinate category, in-group prototypicality

and attitudes towards out-groups.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 40:4 (July 2004): 466-477.