Dynamics in the Contents of Self-Stereotyping and its Implication in Inter-Group Relations



Objectives. Developing a comprehensive model to understand intergroup relationship through integrating two constructs usually used to be examined discretely; self-stereotyping and stereotyping. Background. Today’s understanding of intergroup behavior is firmly grounded in concepts related to stereotypes. In literature, apparently, there are, two dominant approaches in studying stereotype’s effect on intergroup relations. The first approach focuses on the effect of dominant group’s stereotype on intergroup relation, while the second approach focuses on studying the impacts of self stereotyping on victims. Furthermore, minority groups’ self-sterotyping is considered to be derived from the dominant groups’ stereotype. As a result, the prevailing approaches are insensitive to the dynamics in self-stereotype and its implication to the intergroup relationship. In this article, it is claimed that the etiology of intergroup behavior could be better understood by considering a mutually interacting groups’ perspective. Methodology. Systematic approach of reviewing the prevailing literature pertaining to stereotyping and self-stereotyping and integrative analysis method to develop new perspective. Conclusion. Intergroup relation involves the interaction of two or more groups each of them having stereotypes regarding their own group and outgroup. Thus, in this paper, we argued that, the etiology of intergroup behavior cannot be adequately understood without employing the belief system of mutually interacting groups. Hence, we integrated self-stereotyping and other’s stereotypes and the behaviors that emerge during intergroup relations is predicted using the dynamics in the content/valence of minority group members’ self-stereotyping simultaneously with the dominant groups’ stereotype. The integration of these two approaches appears to offer the most adequate explanation for the complex nature of intergroup behavior.

General Information

Keywords: self-stereotyping, other’s stereotype, intergroup behavior

Journal rubric: Theoretical Research

Article type: scientific article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17759/sps.2021120202

For citation: Dawd A.M., Oumar F.Y., Cukur C.S. Dynamics in the Contents of Self-Stereotyping and its Implication in Inter-Group Relations. Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2021. Vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 23–40. DOI: 10.17759/sps.2021120202.

Full text



Despite progress in the democratization process and human rights movements, conflicts between social groups are costing human life and causing material destruction [21]. It is common to witness conflicts arising among various social groups which have aversive consequences ranging from minor disagreement to waging war. How ostensibly civilized individuals act cruelly toward members of out-groups? What factors precipitate intergroup antagonism? In the field of social psychology, the concept of stereotype and prejudice had partly been suggested to have some answers for such questions [11; 90].

Since Lippman [1922] introduced the word stereotype in the field of social sciences, it has got huge scholarly attention [e.g., 7; 18; 78]. As scholars indicated the concept of stereotype and prejudice are among the dominant explanations social psychologists use to explain the negative interaction between groups [11]. Stereotypes are commonly defined as beliefs that associate a certain group of people with definite traits [8; 40]. As numerous studies depicted, the content of stereotype also consists of different qualities such as physical features, role behaviors, occupational preferences, and values [e.g., 15; 34; 66]. Various theories were designed to speculate how stereotype develops and how it affects intergroup relationship. The prominent theories in social psychology proposed different causes which can be grouped into four categories; personality, resource competition, cognitive and motivational factors. For some theories, such as Adorno’s authoritarian personality theory and social dominance orientation theory, stereotype is a product of specific personality traits [8; 60]. For Sherif’s realistic conflict theory, stereotype is developed due to competition on real or perceived limited resource [22; 67]. On the other hand, social identity theory together with self-categorization theory indicated a cognitive and motivational base of stereotype. The theories conceptualized stereotype as a product of a need for categorization and motivation to achieve positive self-esteem [24; 79; 83; 88]. The theory indicated that, it is human tendency to categorize groups as “in group” and “outgroup”, thereby planting the seed for favoring an ingroup and stereotyping the outgroup. In general, whatever the causes are, stereotypic beliefs are considered to have an evaluative function; they are used as standard according to which unavoidable roles, features, traits, and status are assigned for different groups. Such beliefs, consequently, legitimize any action taken by dominant group against anyone trying to step out from the ascribed standards. As Hamilton [27] summarized, negative stereotypes nurture hatred by engendering expectations of undesirable deeds from the out-group, by affecting perceptions and interpretation of their action and by justifying measures taken to harm them. Empirical studies had lent support to the above argument. For instance, studies on criminal justices revealed that, stereotype damages the juries’ ability to make a correct decision in capital punishment [19] and the magnitude of racial bias in a decision to shoot [12]. Overall, the various studies on stereotype has one thing in common; they tend to predict intergroup behavior relying on the dominant group’s stereotype.

Though this approach is plausible, there are two main limitations that call for a need to reexamine the prevailing approache. First, the existing approach relies mainly on the dominant group’s stereotype to predict intergroup behavior. In stereotype literature, almost all theories and studies tried to see stereotypes from one angle (either from the actor or the target perspective) [e.g., 11]. The assumption rests on the premise that studying the nature of the dominant group’s stereotype helps to predict inter­group behavior. For instance, most studies on stereotype use the method of Katz and Braly [41] [e.g., 25]. Such as, studies in racial discrimination examine how White’s negative stereotype towards Blacks affect their behavior towards Black [12; 18; 19]. However, relying on such approach, it is difficult to answer the question why inter­group conflict and tension rising [43] despite the positive progress in the reduction of stereotype in the majority society [17]? If we adopt the one side analysis of stereotype, surely conflicts should be high in times where negative stereotypes were high. The other limitation is related to the conflicting findings on the role of stereotype to predict the nature of intergroup behavior. Irrespective of the availability of mass of studies, the role stereotype plays to predict intergroup behavior is still in question [80]. In one classical review study, Brigham [7] indicated that results in predicting ethnic discrimination using stereotypes are inconsistent and far from certain.

Taken as a whole, without casting doubt on the relevance of the prevailing approach, we believe that predicting intergroup behavior using a similar perspective is, however, inadequate. As Otten [56] indicated, in the existing literature, the mutual impact of interacting groups is not properly considered. Thus, in this paper, we have tried to highlight the need of incorporating the dynamics in the valence of self-stereotyping among the minority groups simultaneously with the nature of the dominant groups’ stereotype to fully address those limitations stated above. Before proceeding to the proposed model, it is important to shed light on some concepts related to self-stereotype.

As we perceive the other group, we also perceive our own group. Like the way we attribute different traits, values, features or roles to other groups, we also do the same thing for our own group. Of the various traits, roles or values assigned to a group some are considered as a standard or prototype of the group. Thus, group prototype is a fuzzy set of attributes that integrate the most defining features of the group which differentiate it from relevant out group [31]. Accordingly, ingroup prototype is, therefore, an exemplar that incorporates the traits, roles or values perceived to be typical to an ingroup [32]. Ingroup prototypes are central to how we understand our own group and how we evaluate others [31]. Since individuals have relatively close contact with their own group, through self-categorization and socialization, the prototype of the ingroup assimilate with the self and become part of the individual’s self-concept [6; 31; 36; 51; 84]. Self-stereotype is, therefore, a process whereby individual group members come to perceive themselves as similar or interchangeable to the typical in-group members [6; 51; 84]. Hence, self­stereotype involves perception of oneself as member of a certain social group and a tendency to behave according to the attributes attached to that group [33; 49]. Studies indicated that self-stereotype is higher among individuals with high group identification [54; 85].

It does not mean, however, that individuals always internalize ingroup prototype. There are instances wherein individuals go through selective self-stereotyping. For instance, Oswald and Lindstedt [55] posited that, even though participants accept both positive and negative ingroup prototypes, they embrace selectively the positive attributes to the self. Thus, while ingroup prototype incorporates perceived main traits group members attribute to their group, self-stereotype focuses on the overlap between self and ingroup prototype [45].

Though both concepts are closely related and have influence on individual’s behavior, in this paper, primary focus is given to self­stereotyping.

Basically, self-stereotyping exists irrespective of the status of the groups [see 77]. Researches, however, indicated that the tendency to self-stereotyping is relatively high among low status than among majority groups [10; 49; 70]. Self-stereotype can be positive or negative [e.g., 5; 33; 70]. However, not all positive traits are equally relevant to in-group. As Phalet and Poppe [59] indicated traits related to competence (such as intelligence, confidence, assertiveness, and competence) are more important to an in-group than traits related to warm (such as humble, sociable, and trustworthy). Competence related traits are self­benefiting traits whereas warm related traits are considered as compensatory traits that are mostly given to minorities [59; 92]. For example, females are perceived as humble and soft but lack confidence and assertiveness. Thus, though self-stereotyping comprises of warm or competence traits, the focus of this paper will be on the dynamics in the competence related self-stereotyping of the minorities.

Numerous studies pointed out the pernicious effects of negative self-stereotype among minority group members. Studies demonstrated that when self-stereotype is activated, minorities perform low in various domains; such as in math [65; 74], in athletics [77], memory and cognitive tasks [47], and overall academic achievement [35].

There is, however, one important gap in the prevailing approaches to self-stereotype; i.e. considering the effects of self-stereotyping to be exclusively confined on one group (either minority or dominant group members). Mostly, for example, self-stereotype has been seen as a condition where members of minority groups internalize the negative prototypes assigned to their group by the dominant culture [e.g., 44]. Such assumptions motivated scholars to invest their efforts on identifying the negative impacts of self-stereotyping on minority group members. That is why we do have plenty of studies on stereotype threat; fear of confirming to the negative social stereotype often arises because of being conscious of the stereotype tied to an in-group [74; 89]. As a result, the scholars were engrossed with the impacts of negative self-stereotype on the minorities’ performance-related behavior [see, 1; 35; 47; 77].

Without casting any doubt on the contributions of such studies, it is possible to say that such assumptions are partly a reason for the dearth of studies on how self­stereotype affects the nature intergroup relations. All the effects of self-stereotype are perceived to be limited only on victims either from minority or majority group members. Nevertheless, it is important to point out that it is not always that individuals from minority groups evaluate themselves through the revelation of the dominant group. It is evidenced that, minorities, more often than not, reject the previously negative stereotype attributed to their group and develop their own positive self-evaluation. For instance, Brigham [7] indicated how black Americans start redefining the negative group evaluation and developing a more positive group identity. More importantly, in our contemporary world, wherein educational advancement, widespread civil right movements, and socio-economic change among minorities are prevalent, such change in the valence of self-stereotype can be particularly high [91]. Note that objective socio-structure improvement are not necessary condition for development of positive group identity.Studies indicated that subliminal priming or cognitive broadening strategies were enough for minority groups to ameliorate the negative self-stereotype. For instance, empirical studies indicated that taking Barak Obama as a positive exemplar helps African American participants to ameliorate the negative self-stereotyping and perceive an overlap between them and Whites [63; 71].

What kind of behavioral change could such change bring among the minority group members? How is such change perceived by the dominant out-group? What will be its implications for the intergroup relationship? Answering these requires us to examine the mutual effects of self­stereotype and others’ stereotypes in the nature of intergroup relations. Unlike the previous approach, in this paper, the focus is given on how a change in the content and valence of self-stereotype affects the behavior of the minority group members and how the majority out-group members perceive such change and react to it. Shortly, in this paper, an attempt is made to show how the etiology of intergroup behavior is properly understood by using the belief systems of mutually interacting groups than through relying solely on one side view.

As long as intergroup relation involves the interaction of two or more groups, the behavior, thereof, can be better predicted by examining how the two sides’ belief systems interact. Examining self-stereotype and other’s stereotypes simultaneously allows us to inspect how these two concepts mutually reinforce each other and how intergroup behavior results through the reciprocal effect of these two concepts. Literature on the concept of meta-stereotype give us conceptual support for the proposed model. As Otten [56] stressed the concept of meta-stereotyping acknowledges the necessity of considering not only the actors’ and/or victims’ perspectives, but also the mutual effects of interacting groups. Meta­stereotype theory clearly indicated how intergroup relation is also a product of the stereotype individuals hold regarding how their group is characterized by relevant outgroup [42; 86]. For instance, as Torres and Charles [82] indicated majority of Black students are aware of the stereotype Whites have about Blacks. Likewise, studies showed that Whites also have a perception regarding on how others view their group [87]. Studies indicated that such image of an ingroup perceived to be held by outgroup has an effect on how individuals appraise an ingroup and outgroup [42]. For instance, studies suggested the negative meta-stereotypes role in increasing intergroup anxiety and a proclivity to avoid contact with outgroup [23; 26]. Besides, negative meta-stereotypes may also lead high identifiers to reciprocally develop negative stereotype towards an outgroup [57]. Hence, literature in the area of meta-stereotyping gives us clue on how self-stereotyping and outgroup stereotyping connected and mutually reinforce each other. Nevertheless, meta-stereotype literature did not consider the dynamics in self-stereotyping and other’s stereotype in their conceptualization of factors affecting intergroup relationship. Hence, in this model, the valence of these two constructs is used to show how inter­group behavior can be better predicted.

As it is stated above, minority group members may internalize the negative stereotype attributed to their group or redefine and develop their own positive self-stereotypes. Likewise, the negative stereotype of the dominant out-group may also be improved through time and incorporate positive stereotypes towards minorities or remain unchanged. Hence, in intergroup relationship, there are conditions wherein the self-stereotype of the minority group and other’s stereotypes are congruent (Positive-Positive or Negative-Negative). This is when the self-stereotype of the minority group members is similar in valence with the stereotype of the majority group about the minority group on salient dimensions. However, what is most likely is the condition in which self-stereotype and other’s stereotypes are incongruent (Positive­Negative respectively), an issue presented in greater detail in the following paragraph.

Positive Self-Stereotype 
Negative Other’s Stereotype

In a society wherein different groups are living together, positive self-stereotype among the minority group and negative stereotype among the majority group mostly arise when the traits, roles, values or attributes are relevant to both groups [6]. This is particularly true when the traits are related to competence. This is because, traits related to competence are relevant to the self (the ingroup) [25; 59]. Hence, each group inclines to attribute such traits to their group. That is why, in most cases, the majority groups negatively stereotype minorities on attributes related to competence while they are generous in traits related to warm. As it is explained above, due to various reasons, individuals from minority groups sometimes ameliorate their negative view about themselves and develop a more positive one. This makes the first combination of this model; a positive­negative combination of self-stereotype and other’s stereotype respectively. This incon­gruence in the belief of the two groups can result in negative intergroup interaction. To understand how negative intergroup interaction occurs, it is important to separately examine what kind of behavior positive self­stereotype and negative other’s stereotype can produce and how the produced behavior affect intergroup relation.

The rise of positive self-stereotyping among minority group members not only help them to neutralize the negative effects of stereotype threat but also contribute to the rise of various new interests. Studies indicated that behavioral outcomes of positive and negative self-stereotype are moti­vationally distinct. The motivation behind negative self-stereotype is prevention focus that instigates avoiding strategies, while positive self-stereotypic belief enhances promotion focus state of eagerness that motivates people towards accomplishment [68]. As Higgins [29] indicated the reference points individuals use while promotion focus regulation stresses on matching the desired endpoint, the motive of prevention focus regulation is to move oneself as away as possible from the undesired reference point. Hence, a belief that “women are good at verbal tasks” stipulates positive endstate that needs to be approached by women. In contrarily, a belief that “women are poor in maths” specifies a negative outcome that has to be avoided. Similar to the previous studies, Seibt and F rster’s [68] study confined the effect of self-stereotype only to minority groups’ performance-related outcomes. They did not examine its implications on intergroup relations.

Positive self-stereotype in traits related to competence induces positive reference endpoints among minority members, that in turn, instigate, a sense of power and a need to achieve a better position. This means, perceiving an in-group as good in intelligence, assertiveness, and other related traits initiate a need for equal share in state power and resource distributions. Such needs will be further strengthened when individuals perceive an overlap between self and ingroup prototypes. Mostly the need and motivation of minority group members created through positive self-stereotype are against endorsing the negative attributes ascribed to them by the dominant culture. Such changes cultivate unusual needs and behavior among minorities’ leading them to be perceived by dominant group as a potential threat to the status quo. The dominant out-group members are, subsequently initiated to stand against the action of the minority groups. In such interaction, therefore, negative behavior like interpersonal and intergroup conflicts, hostility, tension [6] and in extreme cases intergroup war is expected to occur.

Note that, our proposition about perceived threat resulting from positive self­stereotyping and negative other’s stereotyping is somewhat connected with Intergroup Threat Theory (ITT). Generally, ITT attempts to describe two components of perceived threat; realistic and symbolic threat, and their aversive impact on occurrence of prejudice in intergroup relation [76]. The theory posits occurrence of perceived threat relying mainly on in-group's view toward outgroup [see 62]. Consequently, the theory uses individual level factors (such as personality) and situational factors (such as ingroup-outgroup size difference, historical inequalities) as causes to the development of perceived threat between groups [76]. However, the theory did not consider the role of the dynamics in the content of self-stereotyping in developing perceived threats between groups. In this model, we postulate that an increase in positive competence related self-stereotyping spark different new interests among minority groups such as equal representation. When such interests coupled with negative meta-stereotyping, the tendency to perceive the dominant group as a threat increase. On the other hand, we argue that, the new interests among the minority groups will increase the dominant group members’ tendency to perceive the minorities as realistic/symbolic threat. We suggest that, the tendency to perceive the minority groups as a potential threat will be high when the dominant group members hold negative stereotype about the minorities. Hence, the perceived threat, in our model, is a concomitant reflection of beliefs changing take place simultaneously in both in-group and outgroup.

We propose that, the specific negative behavior expected to occur during positive self-stereotype and negative other’s stereotype mainly depends on two factors; group size/power and education. At least two different sociodemographics exist in terms of the group size difference between the majority and minority groups. The first is a condition in which there is an absolute majority (dominant group) in terms of group size and power. In such society, when the minority group has a positive self­stereotype while the majority group has negative stereotypes towards the minority in relevant dimensions, negative interaction is expected to occur. This negative in­tergroup behavior can involve active harm such as verbal harassments and hate crimes or passive harm activities such as opposing affirmative action, health care services, and housing to minority groups [13].

Interracial relations in the USA during and after Obama’s presidency can be a good example of this. When Obama won the 2008 presidential election, there was big enthusiasm that he will bring an end to racial discrimination [16]. Quite on the contrary, intergroup interaction became more racial and race-based hate crimes increased. For example, different studies revealed heightened ingroup favoritism [20], opposing health care policy and different affirmative actions [81] among Whites during and after Obama’s presidency than the period of President Clinton. The negative attitude of the Whites’ against affirmative action could be explained from the point of group interest [see 50]. It seems quite expected for the privileged groups to oppose actions that are not in favor of their group’s interest. Such an explanation, however, could not explain why the Whites’ attitude towards affirmative action is different before and after Obama’s election. Furthermore, an increase in hate crime against Blacks, interracial tensions, and rising number of hate groups like KKK and Black separatist also reported [53; 73].

Why most Whites who were supporting affirmative action for minorities turn out opposing it? Why is such kind of hate crimes against Africa Americans increased following the coming of Obama in the presidential palace? What is most striking is, such hate crime increased amid the reduction of negative stereotype among the majority White communities [3]. Though it is difficult to find out a single cause for such a problem, the reason for this can be explained by examining how Obama’s election affect the self-stereotype of Black minorities and the negative stereotype of White majorities towards Blacks. Empirical studies indicated that positive exemplars can ameliorate the stigmatized person’s self­perception [48]. As Rivera and Benitez [63] indicated exposure to a positive role model like Obama helps Africa American participants to change their mental representation of their group and attenuate negative self-stereotyping. On the contrary, as study indicated priming White participants using President Obama as a racial trailblazer provoke group threat and result in an increase in racial bias among participants with low internal motivation to respond without prejudice [71]. This is because the election of Obama may signify a threat to the status and power historically controlled by Whites in the country. The feeling of threat among dominant out-groups instigates in­group favoritism and out-group derogation. Thus, the change exhibited among White majorities during and after Obama’s election can be attributed to the dynamics of self-stereotyping among African Americans and negative stereotype the White majorities have about African Americans.

The second condition is when there is no absolute majority in terms of group size. Various studies have already indicated the effect of group-size in intergroup relations [e.g., 14; 52; 61]. Nevertheless, in a heterogeneous society, when we talk about groups, mostly we are talking about groups who were living in harmony for long. Thus, relying merely on group size, it is difficult to answer why groups who were living peacefully for years get into bloody conflicts? However, exploring the dynamics of self­stereotype among minority groups together with the negative stereotype of the majority help us to solve this puzzle.

As it is stated above, the rise of positive self-stereotypes instigates new needs and motivations among minority group members, which in turn, initiates a feeling of threat among the majority group members. Symmetricity of the group size further reinforces minority group members’ motivations towards attaining the desired end state, while it further escalates the majority group members’ tendency to perceive the minority as a potential threat [14]. Thus, the dominant group perceive any act which aims to minimize the gap between the dominant and subordinate group as threat to their social status [69]. This motivates the majority group members to react negatively and to take measures that restrict the action of the minority group [61]. Such actions could make minority group members feel deprived of something which is rightfully theirs thereby, commencing a need to overturn the existing status quo among the minority group. This can lead to the creation of different resistance movements [79]. This further motivates the dominant group to react in a more intolerant and discriminatory fashion [65; 69]. Such conditions could potentially put both groups into an ever-escalating vicious cycle of tensions and conflicts. Harris and Fiske [28] stated that such conditions can cause overt conflict between the groups. In a heterogeneous society, such confrontation can lead to ethnic politics and conflicts between ethnic groups as is the case in different countries in Africa.

The second factor which moderates the positive-negative combination of self-stereotype and other’s stereotype is education. Roughly speaking, education is believed to have a liberalizing effect on various irrational and undemocratic attitudes against race, religion, and other social groups [39; 91]. Advancement in education is, therefore, expected to attenuate negative stereotypes thereby promoting a genuine commitment to equality between social groups [91]. Empirical findings, however, suggested a conflicting result regarding the effects of education on racial attitude. Studies echoing the enlightenment approach suggested the positive role education could play in attenuating prejudice and discrimination, while studies in ideological refinement perspective posited the role education plays in maintaining inequalities and unfair privileges [91]. To understand the role of education on racial attitudes and discriminations, we suggest, it is important to consider the different effect education plays among the minority and majority groups.

Education affects minority and majority groups differently [38]. Education can strengthen the positive self-stereotype of the minority groups through increasing group consciousness. For example, the teaching of civil right, morality, equality, and related concepts help minority group members to enhance their perception about their group and sensitivity to injustices in the existing status quo. For instance, Kane [38] indicated that education has a positive effect on females’ gender-related attitudes.

He further stated that advancement in education enlightens, empowers, and initiates group interest among females. Similarly, Wodtke [91] stated that advancement in education is positively related to perceiving discriminations and rejecting negative attributes attached to their group among Black minorities. Group consciousness which rises through education enhances the salience of group identity and the motive to strive for their group interests. As a study by Hogg and Turner [33] indicated, the salience of group identity enhances positive belief among minorities’ by flaring the positive attribute they attach to their own group or by discounting the previously endorsed negative stereotypic belief.

Generally, advancement in education also contributes to reducing the negative stereotype of the majority group about the minority [4; 38; 39; 91]. Despite this, some studies indicated that education is negatively associated with a tendency to support affirmative action among dominant groups [39; 91]. Why the positive change in stereotype did not translate into a positive tendency to affirmative action? To answer this, we suggest considering two important things. The first is related to the perception of the minority as a threat. As it is stated above, need and motivations of the minority group members developed out of the positive self-stereotyping can instigate a feeling of threat among the majority group. Educational advancement paved a way for minority group members to join positions formerly exclusively controlled by the dominant groups. More importantly, the competitiveness of the minorities in the labor market makes educated majority group members feel threatened. This could make educated members of dominant group to respond in a more sophisticated way for such threats. Such behavior can be manifested through opposing affirmative action by the name of supporting meritocracy and individualism or supporting conservative political parties with right-wing populist ideology.

The second is related to the nature of change education could bring. Change through education on the stereotypic belief of the majority groups is not basically beneficial to the ingroup. It requires them to give up the privileges they possessed for years. There is no incentive that could pull them towards the change. Hence, the transformation would be very slow and challenging. On the other hand, however, change in the belief of minorities is basically positive to the ingroup. Thus, the pace of change among the minority group members would be fast while it is sluggish among the majority group member. This results in an uneven rate of change between minorities and majority group members. This could lead the majority group members to relapse into a negative stereotype and discriminations, but at this time, in a more subtle way. As it is stated above, these can be expressed by endorsing the principle of racial equality but opposing any practical steps taken to bring it into reality [see 58]. The uneven rate of change in stereotype, therefore, may give rise to aversive or ambivalent racism and hostile intergroup relationship which is common in our modern society. A good example of this can be the challenge of educated females mostly in developing countries. Education is contributing to the development of positive views among females regarding their gender [38]. Such changes among females are often confronted by a negative and hostile reaction from the society [e.g., 25].

Negative Self-Stereotype 
Negative Other’s Stereotype

Sometimes the minority group members could internalize the negative prototypes attached to their group by the dominant culture [7; 30]. This creates a condition in which minority group members with negative self-stereotype interact with majority groups that have negative stereotypes about the minority group. Studies indicated that a long-term exposure to negative stereotypes may lead a dysfunctional self-schema (women are not good in science) to develop among minority group members [60]. As it is discussed above, most of the studies in stereotype and self-stereotype address this combination. However, none of them examined how these two beliefs interact and reinforce each other.

There are two main ways in which internalizing negative stereotypes affect in­tergroup relations. The first is related to its negative effect on minority groups’ performance. Stereotype threat theory posits that internalizing negative stereotypes leads to underperformance among minority group members. This is because, awareness of the negative stereotype attributed to one’s group puts an individual into the anxiety of confirming the stereotype, that could hijack the effective functioning of the cognitive system [74; 75]. As studies indicated, such negative self-stereotype could lead minorities to perform low in some relevant fields [75]. Low achievement or fear of poor performance can push minorities to avoid positions, fields of studies or any areas they think they will underperform [see 9; 72]. This further validates the negative stereotype of the outgroup, thereby contributing to the stability of the existing difference between the groups [2].

The second way in which negative self­stereotype affect intergroup relation is related to its effect on the tendency to justify the system. When disadvantaged group members perceive their groups as possessing low agentic traits as compared to the outgroup, the propensity to appraise the inequality between the groups as fair and legitimate will be high [2]. For example, Jost and Kay [37] indicated that exposing females to benevolent gender stereotype increases female’s support of the existing system. Similarly, experimental finding indicated that female participants judge the system as legitimate when they see themselves using communal stereotypes than when they see themselves using agentic stereotypes [46]. The implication of these studies is that the more females appraise their group using communal stereotypical traits, the more they incline to the prescribed gender roles than those who assume masculine roles. Strengthening this, study showed that reminding female participants about typical female stereotypic traits such as ineffectiveness and irrationality, led female participants to avoid performance-oriented tasks [72].

Overall, it is possible to argue that the behavior of the minority group instigated by negative self-stereotyping matches with the expectations of the majority group. Hence, the roles minority group might play, a status they might claim, all that, in a real sense, will be in line with the prescribed boundary of dominant group stereotype. Thus, the majority group members will not perceive the behavior of the minority group as a threat. Such negative self-stereotype and negative other’s stereotype combination can result in paternalistic stereotypic behavior such as sympathy and pity related behaviors during intergroup relations. However, since the basis of such stereotype lays on the assumption that minorities are inferior in some traits, it consequently yields negative behaviors like discrimination, deprivation of rights and disrespect to the minority group. Though these bear negative outcomes to the minorities, the behavior expected to occur at intergroup level, however, will not be hostile. That is because, since the behavior of the minority group is congruent with the belief of the majority group, no hate crimes and conflicts at intergroup level is expected.


The concept of stereotype is an indispensable construct in research on inter­group relations. The dominant assumption regarding the prediction of intergroup behavior still rests on the concept of stereotype. The literature, to date, has predominantly focused on measuring the stereotype of the majority group to predict intergroup behavior. The underlying assumption is that negative stereotype predicts negative behavior while positive stereotype predicts positive behavior between groups. On the other hand, the prevailing literature limited the effect of self-stereotype only on the behavior of the victims mostly minority group members. While much is known about the pernicious effects of self-stereotype, no emphasis was given to the dynamics of self-stereotype and its implication to inter­group relation. Thus, under this paper, we have argued that the etiology of intergroup behavior cannot be adequately understood without employing the belief system of mutually interacting groups. It is apparent from the above discussion that intergroup behavior is better predicted not through measuring the stereotype of one group but by examining the reciprocal effects of majority and minority groups’ belief system. Furthermore, this model suggests that the dynamics in self-stereotyping among the minority group affect not only the behavior of the minority group members but also the stereotype of the majority groups, too. Hence, the integration of self-stereotyping and other’s stereotypes appears to offer the most adequate explanation for the complex nature of intergroup behavior. Generally, it is suggested that when self-stereotyping and other’s stereotypes are congruent in valence, there will not be pushing factors for social change and the dominant-subordinate status quo is not to be challenged. However, an incongruent combination of self-stereotyping and other’s stereotype creates a conflict of interests between the groups which perpetuate the existing prejudice and discriminations, thereby, sowing the seed of negative competitions. Such situations can potentially impair trust and cooperation between groups and put them into an ever-escalating vicious cycle of tensions and conflicts.






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Information About the Authors

Ahmed M. Dawd, PhD, Lecture, Jigjiga University Psychology, Jigjiga, Ethiopia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3030-7017, e-mail: 165222404@ybu.edu.tr

Faqih Y. Oumar, PhD, Lecturer, Al-Munawwarah college, Mombasa, Kenya, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0844-6405, e-mail: 165222405@ybu.edu.tr

Cem S. Cukur, PhD, Professor, Head of the Department of Psychology, Ankara Yildrim Beyazit University, Ankara, Turkey, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0213-489X, e-mail: cemsafak@yahoo.com



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