How many times have we heard that “all X’s are the same?” People tend to group under the same definition people who share some sort of trait, mistakenly attributing common characteristics to them.
This phenomenon is what social psychology has called homogeneity effect with respect to the outgroup, And in this article, we will look at it in more depth.
Homogeneity effect with respect to the outgroup: definition
The homogeneity effect with respect to the outgroup is a social phenomenon that occurs when a person, who belongs to a particular group, sees the members of other groups as more similar to each other, while perceiving as very varied members who are own group. In other words, this phenomenon refers to the way people we tend to see the outgroup, that is, an alien group, as something uniform, While we are aware of the nuances present in the ingroup, our own.
When we meet someone, we tend to have a first impression, which can be greatly influenced by how we see, in very general terms, the rest of their peers who share certain characteristics. These characteristics can be race, sex, age, nationality, occupation, among others.
As you can understand, this tendency so common in most humans is the raw material used by stereotypes.
Between error bias and the coping mechanism
There is some controversy over whether to view this phenomenon as a bias due to misconceptions or, conversely, whether it serves as an adaptive mechanism of social perception.
Particular, in this case, we would like to say that people, on the basis of disinformation, we make judgments of others without really knowing how they areWhile, as an adaptive mechanism of social perception, this effect would function to simplify the information of the world, generalization and categorization help us to synthesize the world.
Study of this phenomenon
One of the first scientific approaches to this effect is in the work of Jones, Wood and Quattrone in 1981. In their study, they asked students, who attended four different clubs, what they thought of members of their own. club and those who frequented the other three.
The results showed that there was a significant tendency to generalize in terms of describing members of other clubs, attributing them the same characteristics and behaviors. however, when they talked about their own club they put more emphasis on the fact that there were individual differences, That everyone was as they were and not going to the same place had to be the same.
There are many other studies that have addressed this phenomenon but taking into account characteristics that are difficult to modify, such as gender, race and nationality. This is well known as in the United States, especially in cities where the distribution of blacks and whites is very localized in which neighborhoods, as we move away from predominantly black neighborhoods and enter predominantly white neighborhoods, The idea that those of the other races are all the same becomes much stronger.
Possible explanations for this effect
Although research may suggest that the reason people tend to generalize the characteristics of people who belong to a group that is not their own is due to the lack of contact between group members and Cases.
One might think that not knowing members of another group encourages the generation of stronger stereotypes and prejudices, resulting from lack of contact and avoidance of the grasp. However, there are many cases in everyday life that show this belief to be wrong.
A clear example of this is the differentiation that men and women make from the other sex. These prejudices do not arise because men have little contact with women and vice versaSince, while it is true that both men and women tend to have more friendships of their gender, there aren’t a few people in the other who are usually on the contact list. These as “all men / women are equal” do not arise precisely from ignorance, but from an interest in generalizing about the other group.
It is for this reason that it was necessary to find more sophisticated explanations to better understand the why of this. One of them is how humans store and process information about endo and outgroup. One of the theories that has best exposed this idea is the theory of self-categorization.
According to this theory, the effect of homogeneity in the outgroup occurs due to the different contexts present during the perception of the endo and the outgroup.
So, hypothetically, the effect of homogeneity in the outgroup occurs due to different contexts, in which intra- and intergroup comparisons are made.
When a person, belonging to a certain group, has knowledge of another group, it is normal that he makes a comparison between his group and the other, giving rise here to an intergroup process.
To facilitate this comparison, it is necessary to synthesize the information corresponding to both the proper group and the other, that is to say to generalize both the endo and the outgroup; it makes the process easier for him.
This is where the focus is on the characteristics shared by most of the outgroup members, keep in mind the idea that they are all the same. But when it comes to comparing exclusively the members of the ingroup, that is, an intragroup process, it sometimes pays more attention to the differential traits between its members.
By being part of the same group and getting to know several of its members better, you will be aware of the individual differences of your peers, differentiating yourself from others.
Self-categorization theory has shown evidence when, in intergroup situations, endo and outgroup are perceived more evenly. However, in a context where one group is isolated from the others, differences and heterogeneity appear more easily.
- Quattrone, GA; Jones, EE (1980). Perception of variability within and outside groups: implications for the law of small numbers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 38 (1): 141-152. doi: 10.1037 / 0022-35188.8.131.52
- Judd, CM; Ryan, Carey S .; Park, B. (1991). Accuracy to judge the variability inside and outside the group. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 61 (3): 366-379. doi: 10.1037 / 0022-35184.108.40.2066
- Rubin, M., Hewstone, M., Crisp, RJ, Voices, A. & Richards, Z. (2004). Homogeneity outside the gender group: the roles of differential familiarity, gender differences and group size. In V. Yzerbyt, CM Judd and O. Corneille (Eds.), The Psychology of Group Perception: Perceived Variability, Entity, and Essentialism (pp. 203-220). New York: Psychology Press.