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Becoming an In-Group: Reexamining the Impact of Familiarity on Perceptions of Group Homogeneity

Penelope J. Oakes, S. Alexander Haslam, Brenda Morrison and Diana Grace
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 58, No. 1 (Mar., 1995), pp. 52-60
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2787143
Page Count: 9
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Becoming an In-Group: Reexamining the Impact of Familiarity on Perceptions of Group Homogeneity
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Abstract

This paper reports a field study investigating the relationship between familiarity and perceived in-group homogeneity. Previous work suggests that increasing familiarity within groups should decrease perceived homogeneity; this has been viewed as one potential explanation for the out-group homogeneity effect. In contrast, we hypothesized that increasing members' familiarity with each other as group members would increase perceived homogeneity. This hypothesis was tested in a field study of three interacting groups (N=31) taking part in a 26-day Outward Bound course. As predicted, over time the groups were regarded as more homogeneous, and the members of each were more likely to be described in terms of stereotypic in-group norms. Possible alternative interpretations of the findings, and their implications for the relationship between stereotyping and accuracy in social perception, are discussed.

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