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Child Development Research
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 8649132, 10 pages
Research Article

Ingroup/Outgroup Attitudes and Group Evaluations: The Role of Competition in British Classroom Settings

University of East London, London, UK

Received 30 April 2016; Accepted 28 August 2016

Academic Editor: Elena Nicoladis

Copyright © 2016 Virginia L. Lam and Jodi-Ann Seaton. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Children’s intergroup bias is one of the consequences of their readiness to categorise people into ingroups and outgroups, even when groups are assigned arbitrarily. The present study examined the influence of intergroup competition on children’s ingroup and outgroup attitudes developed within the minimal-group setting in British classrooms. One hundred and twelve children in two age groups (6-7- and 9-10-year-olds) were assessed on classification skills and self-esteem before being allocated to one of two colour “teams.” In the experimental condition, children were told that the teams would have a competition after two weeks and teachers made regular use of these teams to organise activities. In the control condition, where no competition ensued, teachers did not refer to “teams.” Then children completed trait attributions to their own-team (ingroup) and other-team (outgroup) members and group evaluations. It was found that children developed positive ingroup bias across conditions, but outgroup negative bias was shown only by 6-7-year-olds in the experimental condition, particularly if they lost the competition, where they evaluated their team more critically. Better classification skills were associated with less negativity towards the outgroup in the experimental condition. Findings are discussed in relation to relevant theoretical premises and particulars of the intergroup context.