Preferences and beliefs in ingroup favouritism

Abstract

Ingroup favoritism—the tendency to favor members of one’s own group over those in other groups—is well documented, but the mechanisms driving this behavior are not well understood. In particular, it is unclear to what extent ingroup favoritism is driven by preferences concerning the welfare of ingroup over outgroup members, vs. beliefs about the behavior of ingroup and outgroup members. In this review we analyze research on ingroup favoritism in economic games, identifying key gaps in the literature and providing suggestions on how future work can incorporate these insights to shed further light on when, why, and how ingroup favoritism occurs. In doing so, we demonstrate how social psychological theory and research can be integrated with findings from behavioral economics, providing new theoretical and methodological directions for future research. Across many different contexts, people act more prosocially towards members of their own group relative to those outside their group. Consequently, a number of scientific disciplines concerned with human cognition and behavior have sought to explain such ingroup favoritism (also known as parochial altruism). Here we explore to what extent ingroup favoritism is driven by preferences concerning the welfare of ingroup over outgroup members, vs. beliefs about the (future) behavior of ingroup and outgroup members.In this theoretical review we combine insights from a behavioral economic approach with knowledge from social psychological research on social identity processes in intergroup behavior to explain the proximate psychological causes of ingroup favoritism. We expand upon previous discussions about ingroup favoritism by using a conceptual framework of preferences and beliefs to review present findings demonstrating ingroup favoritism in economic games. Although we focus on economic games here, we also selectively draw upon other related research to highlight how social-psychological theory and research can be incorporated with findings from behavioral economics to provide exciting new directions for research. We therefore provide an integrative review of ingroup favoritism in economic games, identifying key gaps in the literature, as well as providing suggestions on how future work can incorporate these insights to shed further light on when, why, and how ingroup favoritism occurs.

Publication
Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience

Full citation

Everett, J.A.C., Faber, N.S., & Crockett, M. (2015). Preferences and beliefs in ingroup favouritism. Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience (9). DOI:10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00015

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