ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (9): 1059-1075.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2022.01059

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The effect of group identity shifting on impression updating in older adults: The mediating role of common ingroup identity

WEN Fangfang, KE Wenlin, HE Saifei, ZUO Bin, LI Lanxin, MA Shuhan, WANG jing   

  1. School of Psychology, Center for Studies of Social Psychology, Central China Normal University, Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior, Ministry of Education, Wuhan 430079, China
  • Published:2022-09-25 Online:2022-07-21


In the field of impression updating, most researchers focus on the impression updating of individual targets, while few research focus on the impression updating of groups. However, the intervention of prejudice and conflict between groups has always been a hot issue to be solved in the field of social psychology. Since group identity is the basis for impression evaluation of groups, based on the perspective of Common Ingroup Identity Model and social categorization, changing group identity to improve common ingroup identity provides a feasible “change makes sense” intervention path for the impression update of the target group. Considering that the large elderly population has become an important part of the world population, it is of great practical significance to evaluate the elderly population positively. Based on this, the present study manipulated group identity shifting at both explicit and implicit levels through “minimal group recategorization paradigm”. The purpose of this study is to explore the influence of identity shifting on the impression updating of the elderly group and the role of common ingroup identity in it, so as to explore a method with low restriction, simple operation and obvious effect to improve out-group impression evaluation.

In preliminary experiment, 119 college students participated in the psychology class as subjects, to examine the effect of group identity shifting manipulated by the minimal group recategorization paradigm on the updating of minimal in-group/out-group impressions. In Experiment 1A, 98 college students were recruited as subjects. The aim of Experiment 1A was to use the “minimal group recategorization paradigm” to manipulate the shifting of group identity, examining the change of young individuals' perception of warmth and competence towards the elderly group, and the effect of group identity shifting on the impression updating of the elderly at the explicit level. In Experiment 1B, we recruited 35 college students as subjects to explore whether the impression evaluation of the elderly can be effectively changed at the implicit level by using Go/ No-Go association task. In Experiment 2, the effect of identity shifting was tested on both explicit and implicit levels. At the implicit level, a Single Category Implicit Association Test with higher application rate and wider application scope was used, and an integrated perspective of warmth, competence and stereotype trait words was used to measure the impression evaluation. At the same time, the influence of identity shifting on common ingroup identity was also measured to explore the role of common ingroup identity in the impression updating of the elderly.

The results of pre-experiment found that shifting group identity could effectively update individual's impression of out-group. Specifically, the evaluation of out-group in the changed group was significantly improved compared with that in the unchanged group, F (1, 117) = 6.75, p = 0.011, ηp2 = 0.06. The results of experiment 1A showed that at the explicit level, shifting group identity could affect the impression updating of the elderly, and the second evaluation of the elderly was significantly improved, F (1, 50) = 6.66, p = 0.013, ηp2= 0.13, especially in the competence dimension, F(1, 51) = 12.85, p =0.001, ηp2 = 0.25. The results of Experiment 1B showed that at the implicit level, manipulation of group identity shifting could not effectively improve the impression evaluation of the elderly. In Experiment 2, it was found that at the explicit level (Fig. 1), common ingroup identity fully mediated the effect of identity shifting on impression updating, with the mediating effect size accounting for 29.2% of the total effect, suggesting that identity shifting improved impression ratings of the elderly by increasing common ingroup identity (Fig. 2). At the implicit level, consistent with experiment 1B, identity shifting did not change subjects' implicit impression evaluation of the elderly.

In conclusion, minimal group recategorization paradigm can shift individual group identity through two classifications and improve impression evaluation of out-group, which is an effective tool to change group identity and alleviate intergroup bias. At the explicit level, common ingroup identity played a mediating role, but at the implicit level, no intervention effect was found. These findings have created a new recategorization method for enhancing common ingroup identity, and opened up a simple and effective method for intergroup prejudice intervention. Moreover, the application of minimal group paradigm is no longer a static application, but more dynamic, ecological significance and realistic value.

Key words: minimal group recategorization paradigm, the elderly, impression updating, group identity shifting, common ingroup identity