The Effects of Superordinate Goals and Superordinate Identity on Outgroup Liking and Behavioral Aggression

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology


Department of Psychology


Advisor: R. Matthew Montoya


What causes ingroup members to like outgroup members? The goal of the presentstudy was to understand the roles of superordinate identities and superordinate goals in producing outgroup liking and reducing aggression. By comparing their effects on liking and aggression it allows us to compare the common ingroup identity model and the ingroup favoring norm to understand intergroup conflict. Superordinate identities is defined as the need for an overarching identity that includes the ingroup and the outgroup. Superordinate goals is defined as the need for cooperative interdependence in which the groups are working toward the same goals. The study compared the use of these to determine if one or both was most effective for establishing outgroup liking by exploring the creation of one group or two groups and cooperation or competition. Three participants were brought to the lab and told they were either in one group or two groups and either in cooperation or competition with another group, then they completed a measure of behavioral aggression and several questionnaires. Data from 132 (13 groups per cell) University of Dayton undergraduate students were collected. Superordinate goals led to differences in outgroup liking and behavioral aggression, but superordinate identities and the interaction of the two did not. Participants in the cooperation condition were more likely than those in the competition condition to trust the outgroup and represent their group as one group identity which led to higher outgroup liking. Furthermore, participants in the competition condition were more likely than those in the cooperation condition to act aggressively toward the other group and neither trust nor the conceptual representations impacted the effect. Results supported the ingroup favoring norm, suggesting that establishing a cooperative interdependence between groups could prevent violence and promote peace by forming outgroup trust.


Social Psychology, Social Research, Psychology, superordinate goals, superordinate identity, intergroup relations, ingroup favoring norm, common ingroup identity model, outgroup liking, behavioral aggression, outgroup trust, conceptual representations

Rights Statement

Copyright © 2020, author