Self-categorization of users’ comments and ingroup influence: The moderating role of context-dependent ingroup identification



A web-based experiment (N = 184) examined whether social identity cues embedded in users’ comments elicit ingroup bias. Participants viewed a mock webpage that displayed information about a local business together with four users’ comments. Consistent with self-categorization theory, viewers adopted their ingroup’s comments, but only when they identified highly with their ingroup. Further, a central message that was juxtaposed with users’ comments and shaped their focus, determined the degree of ingroup identification; viewers were more likely to identify with their ingroup when the central message dealt with an outgroup-typed (vs. ingroup-typed) topic. Finally, although an outgroup-typed central message elicited stereotypical beliefs of the outgroup’s expertise, such beliefs failed to predict viewers’ attitudes, thus lending support to the ingroup identification explanation.

Users’ comments; self-categorization theory; ingroup; identification; distinctiveness; ingroup influence

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