Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 42

THE PREEMINENCE OF CHRIST IN US - Cleveland what social psychological research reveals about intergroup processes, it was both predictable and sad. In addition to using group-serving biases, group members protect self-esteem by derogating and devaluing outgroup members. Fein and Spencer believe that prejudice and negative evaluations often stem from a need to maintain a feeling of self-worth and self-integrity. The more individuals feel that their self-image is threatened, the more likely they are to derogate others in order to maintain a positive self-image. In one important study, Fein and Spencer tested this idea in two steps. First, they tested whether people who experienced self-image threats would be more likely to derogate an outgroup member. Second, they tested whether those who derogated the outgroup member would show increased self-esteem. In the experiment, they asked non-Jewish participants to complete an intelligence test. Upon completion of the test, participants received bogus feedback on their scores. Half of the participants in the study were told that they had performed very well (the 93rd percentile) on the test, and the other half were told that they had performed poorly (the 20th percentile). Fein and Spencer reasoned that the people who received negative feedback would have a threatened self-image because people typically like to believe that they possess above-average intelligence.41 After receiving the bogus feedback, participants were asked to evaluate the personality of either an ingroup member (a non-Jewish, European-American woman) or an outgroup member (a Jewish woman). Then, the researchers measured each participant’s self-esteem. Fein and Spencer found that participants who had received positive feedback on their intelligence test evaluated both the European-American (ingroup member) and Jewish woman (outgroup member) highly. However, participants whose self-image was threatened by the negative feedback on the intelligence test rated the European-American woman (ingroup member) positively but the Jewish woman (outgroup member) negatively. The researchers concluded that the “high score” group maintained positive self-esteem, and therefore it was not necessary to elevate self-esteem via outgroup derogation. Conversely, by derogating the Jewish woman, the “low score” participants were able to recover their lost selfesteem. When self-esteem is high and intact, group members are not likely to derogate outgroup members. However, the opposite is the case when selfesteem is in need of restoration. 41. Mark D. Alicke and Olesya Govorun, “The Better-Than-Average Effect,” in The Self in Social Judgment, ed. Mark D. Alicke, David A. Dunning, and Joachim I. Kruger (New York: Psychology Press, 2005), 85–106. 41