Selective Attention to In- and Out-Group Members Systematically Influences Intergroup Bias

Torsten Martiny-Huenger, Peter M. Gollwitzer, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We analyzed whether attending to versus ignoring in- and out-group members systematically influences intergroup bias. In two studies (N = 187), we manipulated attention by asking participants to count the appearance of in-group (or out-group) members in the presence of out-group (or in-group) distractors. Prior to and during the counting task, we assessed intergroup bias by having participants rate the group members on a liking scale. The results show that the change in intergroup bias from baseline to experimental ratings depended on the attention focus. Whereas counting in-group members (while ignoring the out-group) increased intergroup bias, counting out-group members (while ignoring the in-group) decreased intergroup bias. Thus, we provide evidence that consequences of goal-directed interactions with in- and out-group stimuli (i.e., exposure and selection) systematically influence intergroup bias. We propose that in future research these processes should be considered in addition to social–motivational factors in the analysis of intergroup bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)936-943
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 13 2014


  • distractor devaluation effect
  • intergroup bias
  • mere exposure
  • selective attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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