Ingroups Versus Outgroups

Ingroups Versus outgroups Although categorizing humans is much like categorizing objects, there is a key difference. When it comes to social categorization, perceivers themselves are members or nonmembers of the categories they use. Groups that we identify with—our country, religion, political party, even our hometown sports team—are called ingroups, whereas groups other than our own are called outgroups. We see people in fundamentally different ways if we consider them to be part of our ingroup or as part of an outgroup.

One consequence is that we exaggerate the differences between our ingroup and other outgroups, and this exaggeration of differences helps to form and reinforce stereotypes. Another consequence is a phenomenon known as the outgroup homogeneity effect, whereby perceivers assume that there is a greater similarity among members of outgroups than among members of one’s own group. In other words, there may be many and subtle differences among “us,” but “they” are all alike. It is easy to think of real-life examples. People from China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan see themselves as quite distinct from one another, of course, but to many westerners they are seen simply as Asian. English majors see themselves as dissimilar to history majors, but science majors often lump them together as “humanities types.” Californians proclaim their tremendous cultural, ethnic, and economic diversity, whereas outsiders talk of the “typical Californian.”

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