On the basis of development of the concept of "defensive helping," the authors demonstrated that high ingroup identifiers thwart a threat to group identity through defensive help-giving (i.e., by extending help to an outgroup member whose achievements jeopardize their status). Participants were 255 Israeli high school students (130 boys and 125 girls) ages 16-18. The phenomenon of defensive helping was demonstrated in a minimal group (Study 1) and real-group (Study 2) experiment. Study 3, which examined real groups, supported the extension of the phenomenon of defensive helping to relations between high- and low-status groups, showing that members of a high-status group who perceive status relations with the low-status outgroup as unstable will protect the ingroup's identity by providing dependency-oriented help to the low-status outgroup. Priming for common ingroup identity reversed this pattern, with participants electing to offer autonomy-oriented rather than defensive help. Theoretical and applied implications of these findings are discussed with respect to social change, paternalism, and helping between nations.
- common ingroup identity
- defensive helping
- dependency/autonomy-oriented help
- status relations
- threat to social identity