Strongly identified members are motivated to protect their ingroups. This general goal, however, can manifest in different forms. It often results in ingroup enhancement, preference, and conformity, but sometimes in receptivity to negative information, ingroup critique, and dissent. In particular, strong identifiers may engage with group problems when they are perceived to endanger collective values or long-term group interests. In one line of work, we observed that Whites who were strongly identified with America were highly sensitive to cues that police shootings of Black civilians were inconsistent with national values. Rather than justifying the behavior of ingroup authorities, they perceived these events as illegitimate and a national problem. In other studies, we examined willingness to publicly express views that dissent from strong ingroup norms. Strongly identified US Republicans were willing to express disagreement with party policy if they perceived the party’s position as threatening their future viability and electoral success. The relevance of these findings for social and political change will be discussed.
Bio: Dominic Packer received his PhD in social psychology from the University of Toronto and is now Associate Professor of Psychology at Lehigh University. He currently serves as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs in the College of Arts and Sciences at Lehigh, is an Associate Editor at Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, and serves on the editorial board at the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. He thinks people in groups are fascinating and, sometimes, frightening.