New Bachelor Thesis Assignments

From “us” versus “them” to “we”: when do dual identities improve or deteriorate group relations?


Substantial work in social psychology has focused on designing interventions to increase inclusiveness and overarching commonalities among social groups. Because of the central role of social identity in the emergence of group inequality, researchers have studied how these social identities could be used in reducing inequality. The Common Ingroup Identity Model (CIIM; Gaertner & Dovidio, 2000, 2012) provides a framework for reducing group bias by altering peoples’ representations of the different groups. Instead of an “us” versus “them” orientation, a more encompassing, superordinate “we” classification is shaped. At the core of this model is the observation that people have multiple social identities (for instance, family membership, being part of a neighborhood, or identifying with an ethnic group such as Dutch or Moroccan).

Research has highlighted several challenges that have to be met when using common ingroup identities for the reduction of actual inequality between different social groups (see, Dovidio, Gaertner, Ufkes, Saguy, & Pearson, 2016 for a review). Most importantly, it is not always clear which identities could serve effectively as common ingroup identity. Illustrative is that whereas some studies find that dual identities (when both a common and subgroup identity are salient simultaneity, for instance when identifying as Moroccan-Dutch) lead to more positive outgroup attitudes, others find a negative relation between dual identities and outgroup attitudes.

One solution to this contradiction may be that common ingroup identities may differ in their structural organization with respect to lower order subgroup identities (see Figure 2). First, some subgroup categories are completely nested with one superordinate common ingroup identity. For instance, one overarching American identity encompassing all ethnic/racial subgroups or one German identity for both East and West Germans (Mummendey & Wenzel, 1999). Other common ingroup identities do not completely encompass subgroup categories but do intersect subgroup borders in a given context: for instance a neighborhood identity shared by different ethnic/racial groups (Ufkes et al., 2012).

The goal of this project is to systematically test how the structural relation between subgroup and common ingroup identities (whether they are nested or overlapping) determines the effect of dual ingroup identification on outgroup attitdues.



We will start with an exploration of recent relevant literature on common ingroup identity and recategorization. Most likely the research will be based on experimental data collection, which will be analyzed quantitatively—but we will select the best research approach together.



Dovidio, J. F., Gaertner, S. L., & Saguy, T. (2007). Another view of “we”: Majority and minority group perspectives on a common ingroup identity. European review of social psychology, 18, 296–330.

Dovidio, J. F., Gaertner, S. L., Ufkes, E. G., Saguy, T., & Pearson, A. R. (2016). Included but Invisible? Subtle Bias, Common Identity, and the Darker Side of “We.” Social Issues and Policy Review, 10(1), 6–46. doi:10.1111/sipr.12017

Wenzel, M., & Mummendey, A. (2007). Superordinate identities and intergroup conflict: The ingroup projection model - European Review of Social Psychology - Volume 18, Issue 1. European Review of Social Psychology.



Interested in this assignment? Please contact coordinator Elze Ufkes (