Social inclusion leads individuals to devalue groups of perceived inferior quality

Donald F. Sacco, Michael J. Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Much is known about how social exclusion influences affiliation interest; however, little research has explored how social inclusion affects individuals' affiliative tendencies, such as their evaluation of their existing group memberships and interest in additional affiliative opportunities. We hypothesized that, because socially included individuals' self-esteem and belongingness needs have been satiated, these individuals might display a reduced tendency to derive self-esteem benefits from negative (but not positive) groups to which they belong as well as reduced interest in joining lower status groups compared to individuals in a social exclusion or control condition. In 2 studies, individuals completed a writing task to activate feelings of inclusion, exclusion, or a control state. Study 1 participants then indicated their collective self-esteem associated with a positive and negative group to which they were a member. Social inclusion participants reported reduced collective self-esteem, specifically public collective self-esteem, from negative group memberships, compared to control and social exclusion participants (all participants reported deriving similar levels of collective self-esteem from positive group memberships). Study 2 participants were asked to indicate their interest in joining sororities/fraternities that varied in prestige and ease of entry. Compared to social exclusion and control participants, social inclusion participants showed reduced interest in joining a relatively low prestige fraternity/sorority that was easier to obtain membership into. Collectively, these 2 studies indicate that social inclusion leads individuals to set a higher criterion for personal group membership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-224
Number of pages214
JournalGroup Dynamics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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