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Group virtue: The importance of morality (vs. competence and sociability) in the positive evaluation of in-groups.

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Abstract

Although previous research has focused on competence and sociability as the characteristics most important to positive group evaluation, we suggest that morality is more important. Studies with pre-existing and experimentally-created in-groups showed a set of positive traits to constitute distinct factors of morality, competence, and sociability. When asked directly, Study 1 participants reported that their in-groups morality was more important than its competence or sociability. An unobtrusive Factor Analytic method also showed morality to be a more important explanation of positive in-group evaluation than competence or sociability. Experimental manipulations of morality and competence (Study 4) and morality and sociability (Study 5), showed that only in-group morality affected aspects of the group-level self-concept related to positive evaluation (i.e., pride in, and distancing from, the in-group). Consistent with this, identification with experimentally-created (Study 2b) and pre-existing (Studies 4 and 5) in-groups predicted the ascription of morality to the in-group, but not competence or sociability.

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