Sociological Notions and Psychological Phenomena



9 Questions

What is an in-group?

What is an out-group?

What is the minimal group paradigm?

What is in-group favoritism?

What is the out-group homogeneity effect?

What is out-group derogation?

What is group polarization?

What is the difference between in-group and out-group members in terms of facial recognition?

What is the association between in-group favoritism and out-group derogation?


Sociological Notions: Summary

  • In-group refers to a social group with which a person identifies, while out-group refers to a social group with which an individual does not identify. People can identify with their peer group, family, community, sports team, political party, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or nation.
  • The terminology was popularized by Henri Tajfel and colleagues during their work in formulating social identity theory in the 1970s. The significance of in-group and out-group categorization was identified using a method called the minimal group paradigm.
  • People can form self-preferencing in-groups within a matter of minutes, even on the basis of completely arbitrary and invented discriminatory characteristics, such as preferences for certain paintings.
  • The psychological categorization of people into in-group and out-group members is associated with a variety of phenomena, such as in-group favoritism, out-group derogation, group homogeneity, social influence, and group polarization.
  • In-group favoritism refers to the fact that people prefer and have an affinity for one's in-group over the out-group or anyone viewed as outside the in-group. People tend to evaluate actions of their own group or team members much more favorably than those of outgroup members.
  • Neural mechanisms of in-group favoritism and out-group bias occur very early in perception and can begin by simply viewing a person's face. Research indicates that individuals are faster and more accurate at recognizing faces of in-group vs. out-group members.
  • Categorization of people into social groups increases the perception that group members are similar to one another. This leads to the out-group homogeneity effect, which refers to the perception of members of an out-group as being homogenous, while members of one's in-group are perceived as being diverse.
  • Out-group derogation is the phenomenon in which an out-group is perceived as being threatening to the members of an in-group. This phenomenon often accompanies in-group favoritism.
  • People have been shown to be differentially influenced by in-group members. That is, under conditions where group categorization is psychologically salient, people will shift their beliefs in line with in-group social norms.
  • Group polarization refers to the tendency of groups to make decisions that are more extreme than the initial inclination of its members, although polarization toward the most central beliefs has also been observed.
  • In evolutionary psychology, in-group favoritism is seen as an evolved mechanism selected for the advantages of coalition affiliation. It has been argued that characteristics such as gender and ethnicity are inflexible or even essential features of such systems.
  • There is evidence that elements of in-group favoritism are flexible in that they can be erased by changes in social categorization. One study in the field of behavioral genetics suggests that biological mechanisms may exist which favor a coexistence of both flexible and essentialist systems.


Test your knowledge on sociological notions related to in-group and out-group categorization, social identity theory, and psychological phenomena such as in-group favoritism, out-group derogation, group homogeneity, social influence, and group polarization. Learn about the neural mechanisms and evolutionary psychology behind in-group favoritism and discover how social categorization can affect perception and behavior. Take this quiz to enhance your understanding of sociological concepts and their implications on human interactions.

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