Intergroup bias is a term coined to describe the prejudicial attitudes held among members of the in-group against members of the out-group, where the word intergroup aims to describe psychological phenomena across groups, and where bias may be roughly defined as the existence of discriminatory behavior. Intergroup bias encompasses multiple facets, an example of which includes but is not limited to behavior, where members of the in-group discriminate against members of the out-group by giving preferential treatment to those who belong to the in-group to the negligence of out-group members. Secondly, intergroup bias may manifest itself cognitively through negative stereotyping. An effort to give an exhaustive account of what give rise to intergroup bias and its implications will be given.
One of the manifestations of intergroup bias may be best characterized as in-group favoritism, demonstrated by amicable attitudes held towards members of the in-group, where trust and other positive feelings are exchanged. In contrast, exclusion of out-group manifests as the withholding of positive emotions. There is an abundance of empirical evidence which suggests that members of the in-group act favorably and give preferential treatment to fellow members (Insko et al. 1990, 1998). The inter-exchange of empathy, positive views, trust, and cooperation between in-group members, to the exclusion of out-group members, are one of the many ways in which in-group favoritism is expressed. Preferential treatment towards members of the in-group is nevertheless one manifestation of intergroup bias that must be duly distinguished from aggression towards the out-group, best characterized by deprecation through negative stereotyping (Brewer 1999, 2000; Levin & Sidanius 1999, Singh et al. 1998).
Recent social-psychological research undertaken mainly concerns itself with the detection of in-group favoritism as opposed to out-group aggression. Contemporary research has revealed that positive biases arising from in-group identification are automatic and outside the conscious awareness of the participant (Otten & Wentura 1999, Perdue et al. 1990). Secondly, intergroup bias most often expresses itself through the withholding of positive feelings, as opposed to the harboring of ill-ill towards members of out-groups (Dovidio & Gaertner 2000, Pettigrew & Meertens 1995, Stangor et al. 1991).
In conclusion, intergroup bias is a form of discrimination enacted by members of the in-group towards those found in the out-group. These groups may be defined by various categories, which include but are not limited to race, age, and gender. We have reviewed several theories that explain the cause of intergroup bias, some of which being social identification theory, self-categorization theory, uncertainty reduction theory, social dominance theory, and terror management theory. These theories aim to explain the motivations that precipitate intergroup bias in individuals. In light of the many innate psychological needs of the individual, identification with the in-group seems to be the most feasible means by which individuals are able to satisfy these needs. As such, intergroup bias is not motivated by bad will towards members of the out-group, but rather the gain of positive affect associated with in-group identification promotes in-group favoritism to the negligence of out-group members.