Attitude polarization: Effects of group membership

Diane Mackie, Joel Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Two experiments demonstrated the effect of group membership on attitude polarization. 132 undergraduates listened to a taped discussion that advocated either the retention or the abolition of standardized testing approximately 2 mo after a pretest had indicated their mild support for retaining the tests. In the 1st experiment the taped discussion was attributed either to a group the S was about to join or to a group with whom the S's group was to compete. Attitudes shifted toward the position advocated on the tape only when the discussion was attributed to the ingroup. A 2nd experiment explored the mechanism underlying the polarization produced by group membership. 40 Ss listened to proabolition or proretention discussions attributed to their own group or to an unrelated group before estimating the normative position of the group on the tape and completing an individual post measure. Ss' perceptions of their own group's norm were found to be significantly more extreme than the uninvolved Ss' perceptions. Postdiscussion attitudes moved to this "extremitized" norm rather than moving beyond it, supporting a social identification rather than a social differentiation explanation of the phenomenon. (43 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-585
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1984

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • group membership, attitude polarization, college students


Dive into the research topics of 'Attitude polarization: Effects of group membership'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this