Overlap in processing advantages for minimal ingroups and the self

Florence Enock, Miles R.C. Hewstone, Patricia Lockwood, Jie Sui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Cognitive biases shape our perception of the world and our interactions with other people. Information related to the self and our social ingroups is prioritised for cognitive processing and can therefore form some of these key biases. However, ingroup biases may be elicited not only for established social groups, but also for minimal groups assigned by novel or random social categorisation. Moreover, whether these ‘ingroup biases’ are related to self-processing is unknown. Across three experiments, we utilised a social associative matching paradigm to examine whether the cognitive mechanisms underpinning the effects of minimal groups overlapped with those that prioritise the self, and whether minimal group allocation causes early processing advantages. We found significant advantages in response time and sensitivity (dprime) for stimuli associated with newly-assigned ingroups. Further, self-biases and ingroup-biases were positively correlated across individuals (Experiments 1 and 3). However, when the task was such that ingroup and self associations competed, only the self-advantage was detected (Experiment 2). These results demonstrate that even random group allocation quickly captures attention and enhances processing. Positive correlations between the self- and ingroup-biases suggest a common cognitive mechanism across individuals. These findings have implications for understanding how social biases filter our perception of the world.
Original languageEnglish
Article number18933
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date3 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2020


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