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What is Ingroup Bias – Causes & Examples

Published by at July 4th, 2023 , Revised On October 5, 2023

Have you ever witnessed, in any professional setting, people will want to refer someone for a job from their ingroup? Or in an educational environment, students in a certain group sit together, and they would not prefer students from other groups to sit with them?

What causes these people to behave in a certain way? Why do they prefer their ingroup people? Where else in our lives can we figure out in-group favouritism? Understanding ingroup bias is paramount because it can lead to discrimination and intergroup conflicts. 

In this blog, let’s delve into some causes and examples of ingroup bias in our daily lives. But before that, let’s understand what ingroup bias is.

What is Ingroup Bias?

In-group bias, often referred to as In-group favouritism, is a cognitive bias in which people tend to favour and display more favourable behaviours towards members of their group or social category. 

One can state ingroup definition as ‘’In-group bias is viewing and treating people in one’s group favourably compared to others.’’ In other words, ingroup bias simply refers to a preference for one’s group rather than necessarily implying that people have unfavourable sentiments or acts discriminating towards members of other groups.

What are the Causes of Ingroup Bias?

There are multiple causes of ingroup bias, some of which are discussed as under:

  • Social Categorisation

Ingroup and outgroup biases are natural. Humans automatically classify and divide other people into different groups according to traits like ethnicity, nationality, or affiliation. 

This process is known as social categorisation. This classification leads to a bias favouring the ingroup by fostering a sense of identity and belonging to one’s own group.

  • Self-Esteem And Identification

People frequently get a sense of self-worth and identification from their group memberships. Positive judgments of the ingroup can raise people’s self-worth and self-esteem, which results in bias in favour of their own group.

  • Norms of The Ingroup

People are socialised from a young age into their ingroup’s norms, values, and beliefs. Respecting these standards encourages ingroup loyalty and harmony, which assist in the emergence of ingroup prejudice. It is the most common cause of ingroup bias. 

  • Similarity and Comfort

Comfort is an important factor in establishing groups. Whether in terms of physical characteristics, culture, language, or common experiences, people tend to feel more at ease with others who are similar. This resemblance and familiarity cause an attraction to the ingroup.

  • Social Identity Theory

In social identity theory, people try to preserve a positive social identity by positively distinguishing their ingroup from outgroups. This urge to elevate the status and value of one’s group might lead to ingroup bias.

  • Competition Between Groups

When there is rivalry or conflict between several groups, people tend to be more devoted to and supportive of their group. Race, nationality, religion, politics, and any other group affiliation are the factors that cause ingroup bias. 

Because of the increased rivalry between groups, people may become more inwardly biased because they see other groups as competitors for resources or social prestige.

  • Cognitive Processes

Cognitive biases, such as confirmation and availability heuristics, can influence the perception and evaluation of information related to ingroups and outgroups. 

People selectively attend to or interpret information that confirms their positive views of the ingroup and negative views of outgroups, further reinforcing ingroup bias.

What is the Impact of Ingroup Bias?

Our daily lives can be significantly impacted by ingroup bias, impacting our beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, and interactions with others. The following are some of the impacts of ingroup bias on our daily lives:

  • Discrimination

One of the most prominent impacts of ingroup bias is discrimination. Ingroup bias helps foster prejudice and discriminatory attitudes regarding outgroup members. As a result, people will be subjected to unjust treatment, prejudice, and stereotypes based on ethnicity, nationality, religion, or social class.

  • Stereotyping

Ingroup prejudice can support and maintain negative stereotypes about people who belong to other groups. These stereotypes are often incorrect generalisations, which can result in partial understanding, unfair treatment of members of other groups, and biased judgements.

  • Interpersonal Relationships

Ingroup bias impact how we establish and preserve connections with others. Multiple ingroup bias experiments have been carried out to check the behaviour.  

People who are part of our ingroup may make us feel more at ease and trustworthy, which could lead to possible exclusion or mistrust of people who are part of other groups.

  • Conflict and Social Cohesion

By encouraging a sense of solidarity, and cooperation among group members, ingroup bias can help maintain social cohesion. However, it can also result in intergroup disputes, opposition, and discrimination, especially when rivalry or a sense of threat exists among various groups.

  • Fairness in Decision-Making

Ingroup prejudice can impact decision-making processes at the individual level and broader social situations. When allocating resources, selecting employees, or formulating social rules, people may favour their own group, leading to unfairness and inequality.

  • Information Processing and the Media

Ingroup bias can affect how we interpret and take in information from media sources. People might be more open to accepting information that supports the viewpoints of their ingroup and sceptical or contemptuous of information from outgroups, which can lead to polarisation.

  • Intergroup Dynamics

Ingroup discrimination can affect how different groups interact with one another in a variety of contexts, such as the workplace, schools, and communities. It can alter social norms, intergroup relations, and disputes, ultimately affecting social structure.

Note: ResearchProspect has also provided multiple and comprehensive guides on other topics of research bias, i.e. What is Hindsight Bias | Causes and Examples of Cognitive Bias

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Common Examples of Ingroup Bias From Daily-Life

We have all experienced ingroup bias throughout our lives. Undoubtedly, it has affected our decisions at certain levels. The following are some ingroup bias examples from our daily lives: 

  • Sports Team Loyalty

Sports team loyalty is one of the most common examples of ingroup bias. Many people display strong ingroup bias when backing one’s preferred sports team. 

They could have a strong sense of loyalty to and favouritism for their team, frequently considering it better than other teams and displaying prejudice in their assessments.

  • National or Cultural Identity

Intragroup discrimination can be seen in how people view and relate to those of other nationalities or cultures. People prefer their own nation or culture, attributing positive traits while harbouring preconceptions towards people from other nations or cultures.

  • Grouping At Work

In workplaces, ingroup bias shapes exclusive groups. These groups’ members may show favouritism towards their own members, which results in the exclusion or marginalisation of people who do not belong to the ingroup.

  • Political Affiliations

Ingroup bias is common in politics, when people tend to favour their own political party or ideology. Based on their party identification, people may show a strong bias in their assessments of politicians, policies, or even news sources, frequently ignoring or disparaging competing opinions.

  • Rivalries Between Schools or Colleges

Another ingroup bias example is the rivalries between schools or colleges. We have all witnessed that. Ingroup bias is evident in these situations, where students show great loyalty to and favouritism for their own institution. 

Such discrimination may affect how students from various institutions or colleges view academic success, athletic competitions, and interpersonal relationships.

  • Social or Interest Groups

Ingroup prejudice also exists in social or interest groups, including professional associations, internet communities, and hobby clubs. These groups’ members may show favouritism and a sense of belonging towards their own, potentially excluding or discounting others from outside the group.

  • Friends and Family Networks

Ingroup bias can even manifest in intimate relationships. Favouritism or preferential treatment is shown to family members or close friends and is frequently valued more than outsiders’ thoughts and actions.
One should reduce ingroup bias in their daily lives by empathising with others, considering their situations, increasing exposure to their viewpoints, encouraging positive intergroup interaction, and establishing inclusive environments.

Frequently Asked Questions

In-group bias, often referred to as In-group favouritism, is a cognitive bias in which people tend to favour and display more favourable behaviours towards members of their own group or social category. 

Psychological, social, and cognitive variables contribute to ingroup bias. It comes from our innate tendencies to categorise things into groups, to identify with those groups, to gain self-worth from group memberships, and to value familiarity and likeness.

In workplaces, ingroup bias shapes exclusive groups. These groups’ members may show favouritism towards their own members, which results in the exclusion or marginalisation of people who do not belong to the ingroup.

One can reduce ingroup bias by increasing exposure to other’s viewpoints, encouraging positive intergroup interaction, establishing inclusive environments, and encouraging empathy through education and awareness campaigns.

About Owen Ingram

Avatar for Owen IngramIngram is a dissertation specialist. He has a master's degree in data sciences. His research work aims to compare the various types of research methods used among academicians and researchers.