Intergroup Allocation Bias Before and after Group Discussion

Publication Year


Journal Article

Previous research has shown that the amount of reward allocated to the ingroup and outgroup was affected by two factors: recipients' inputs to the reward pool and the group membership of the allocators and recipients. The cross-pressures of these two factors, one in the direction of equity and the other in the direction of ingroup bias, were further examined in the present study together with a third factor—namely, group discussion. Results of an experiment (N = 42) showed that ingroup bias appeared in both private and public allocation decisions prior to the discussion but disappeared afterwards. Accompanying this change was an increase in the confidence of making the postdiscussion decisions. The allocation results did not conform to either the group salience or the group polarization hypothesis. The salience of self, which might have been heightened by the discussion experience, could have accounted for the change.

Journal of Social Psychology
Type of Article
Journal Article
Full text


Forty-eight female introductory psychology students were randomly selected from a pool of voluntary Ss.

Six Ss were scheduled for each of eight experimental sessions, during which they were divided into two three-person groups.


Procedure and Design 

In every session Ss were informed about the aim of the project [...]

The information was worded neutrally without mentioning bias or fairness.

[...] Ss were divided into Groups A and B by drawing lots and were identified by code numbers to ensure anonymity. They then worked individually on a word-generating task [...]

When announcing the amount of reward available for allocation, the E stressed that both groups had contributed more or less equally to it.


Prediscussion phase 

Each S received an allocation pamphlet on which she would indicate her division of the reward between two other Ss. The pamphlet contained information about the relative word scores of the two recipients: One recipient either had a “higher” or “lower” word score than the other. No mention was made of the S’s own score. The recipients’ group membership was varied to produce one intragroup and two intergroup conditions.

Each S indicated privately on the pamphlet her allocation decision.

Ss were told that their decisions would remain anonymous and were unrelated to how much they would receive themselves.

[...] each S indicated on a five-point scale how confident she was about making the decision.


Discussion phase 

Members of the two groups, A and B, were seated separately in two rooms. Each group was then assigned a hypothetical case of dividing the reward between an (unidentified) ingroup recipient and an outgroup recipient.

Discussion began, as directed, with each S stating publicly her preferred allocation. This was followed by a free-discussion period of up to 15 minutes.

The E and his assistant observed but did not participate in the discussion [...]


Postdiscussion phase 

Each S was asked to reexamine her prediscussion private allocation decision with the instruction

After the group discussion, you may or may not wish to change the way you previously divided the papers.

She then completed the allocation and confidence questions again in the same manner as before.

Type of Prejudice/Bias