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Linguistic Inter-group Bias

 

Explanations > Theories > Linguistic Inter-group Bias

Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

We tend to communicate positive in-group and negative out-group behaviors more abstractly than negative in-group and positive out-group behaviors, which are communicated more explicitly.

Abstract communications tends to be persistent over time. Thus we use abstraction to imply that in-group people are more consistently good and out-group people are consistently bad.

When an item is communicated abstractly, it may be followed up with more detail, perhaps to explain cause.

Research

In a review of Italian reports, Riva and Giuseppe found differences where Berlusconi (head of the right-wing coalition) said: "Previti [a member of his coalition] asked the Rome judge for a suggestion." Referring to the same event, a sample of out-group discourse followed: Rutelli (head of the left-wing coalition) said: "When Previti intended to bribe the Rome judge, he invited him in[to] his office."

Example

My friend John was helpful.

My enemy Jim failed again.

John did not help Jennifer cook the fish last night, because he was not feeling well and had helped at lunchtime.

Jim helped Jennifer pick up the fish from the supermarket this morning.

So What?

Using it

To establish yourself in a group, use these patterns to indicate your positive regard for the group and lower regard for out-group members.

Defending

When others talk about you in a way that indicates out-group thinking, challenge them or otherwise correct the language to establish your in-group linguistic pattern.

See also

In-Group Bias, Social Desirability Bias, Out-Group Homogeneity

References

Maass, Ceccarelli and Rudin (1996), Maass, Corvino and Arcuri (1994), Anolli, Zurloni and Riva (2006)

 

 

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