Linguistic Intergroup Bias: Differential Expectancies or In-Group Protection?

Anne Maass, Angela Milesi, Silvia Zabbini, Dagmar Stahlberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The linguistic intergroup bias describes the tendency to communicate positive in-group and negative out-group behaviors more abstractly than negative in-group and positive out-group behaviors. This article investigated whether this bias is driven by differential expectancies or by in-group protective motives. In Experiment 1, northern and southern Italian participants (N = 151) described positive and negative behaviors of northern or southern protagonists that were either congruent or incongruent with stereotypic expectancies. Regardless of valence, expectancy-congruent behaviors were described more abstractly than incongruent ones. Experiment 2 (N = 40) showed that language is used in an equally biased fashion for individuals as previously demonstrated for groups. Experiment 3 (N = 192) induced expectancies experimentally and found greater abstraction for expectancy-congruent behaviors regardless of valence. All experiments confirmed the differential expectancy approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-126
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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