Strong polarization of opinion has become the hallmark current political scenario. But researchers have found that this polarization could extend to other non-political areas of our life. A strong desire to belong to a particular group can lead us to form a harsh judgment about people on the other side, found a study conducted by Duke University. Published by PNAS, the study termed the desire to belong to a group as ‘groupiness’.
The research team studied 141 participants for groupiness and related bias. They tested its effect under different settings. The participants had to allocate money to themselves and someone else in their group or to themselves and someone from the other group. In the first set, the participants were divided in different groups according to their political leanings. In the second set, they were divided according to their preferences in art. In the third set, the recipients were chosen at random.
The researchers expected that bias would be higher among people who held very strong beliefs in their group. However, they found that just membership to a certain group led people to form a bias against those outside their group. A third of the participants did not show any bias towards group membership when allocating money. These participants were also more likely to identify as politically independent. The researchers did not find any relationship between gender, race and the desire to be part of a group.