University of Sussex
Jansen,_Bianca.pdf (2.31 MB)

What does it take to help an outgroup?

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:26 authored by Bianca G M Jansen
The present thesis has focused on helping behaviour towards disadvantaged outgroups. Research was done at an intergroup level, and obtained its theoretical foundation from the Social Identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986), self-categorization theory (Turner, 1985; Turner et al., 1987) and the empathy-altruism model (Batson, 1987, 1991; Batson et al., 1989; Batson & Shaw, 1991) and focused on the influence of identity content and ingroup norms in investigating outgroup helping. Experiments were carried out concerning different instances that could affect outgroup helping and were centred around social identity and identity content, accountability, intragroup power and empathy towards the outgroup. The first two studies focused on the role of particular identities in terms of the Social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986). In experiment 1 it was found that people regulate their empathy towards beggars by their non-salient religious identity when they are together with others. The presence of others such as friends and partner, who are aware of the participant‘s religious identity, could possibly evoke accountability concerns, which are then reflected in empathy and prosocial behaviour towards a disadvantaged group. In experiment 2 a salient political identity only led to pro-social behavioural preferences and empathy towards beggars for those with left-wing identities; as opposed to those with a right wing preference. Concluding, the content of ideologically-defined identities (religious, political) served to regulate empathy and prosocial behaviour, but the salience of these identities could play a crucial mediating role in certain contexts. The plausible effect of accountability was further investigated in experiments 3 and 3a. Unfortunately no conclusive results were found. Experiments 4 and 5 investigated the role of intragroup power on outgroup helping. Results showed that people with high intragroup power either affect the prosocial behaviour of people that are less certain of their political preference compared to people who are certain of their political preference, possibly due to processes in accordance with the social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954) and intragroup differentiation (experiment 4), or were found to be less prosocial towards an outgroup (experiment 5) than people with lower intragroup power. Finally in experiment 6 and 7, research was directed towards intergroup awareness and empathy. Experiment 6 demonstrated that an outgroup will be perceived with more empathy and prosocial behaviour when awareness of the outgroup is high than when awareness of the outgroup is low. In experiment 7, people high in empathy towards a disadvantaged outgroup were more willing to allocate money to the outgroup than people lower in empathy. Overall, the results of the experiments in the subsequent chapters led to believe that ingroup identity and content, and ingroup norms are feasible with regard to helping a certain disadvantaged outgroup. These findings fit with the theories of social identity and self categorization, given that feeling and behaving according to ingroup norms is the objective, and suggesting that people each have a variety of different identities, which become activated in different social contexts. Furthermore inducing empathy towards an outgroup seemed to be an useful tool to promote helping behaviour towards an outgroup.


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