Love thy neighbor: Ingroups, outgroups, and biased attributions

Context: Research on intergroup conflict is well supported and grounded in implementing collaboration. However, despite this data, conflict continues to grow and develop. In the present research, Waytz, Young, and Ginges (2014) provide context as to why individuals and their respective group associations may fail to respect peace-promoting findings through an analysis of “motive attribution asymmetry.” Motive attribution symmetry is an assumption-based pattern that involves ingroup vs. outgroup tendencies to respond with either biased ingroup-love or outgroup-hate assumptions.
Waytz et al. (2014) hypothesize that people will “attribute ingroup engagement in conflict to love more than hate…. but [also] attribute outgroup engagement in conflict to hate more than love” (p. 15687) Within five separate studies, Waytz et al. (2014) utilize several distinct intergroup conflicts, violent and non-violent, aiming to understand individuals’ innate sense of ingroup and outgroup motives and subsequent intergroup assumptions.


Study 1: Democrat-Republican Conflict in American Politics
1. What They Did – Intervention Summary:
Why do individuals disregard peacemaking solutions spelled out by previous research studies?
Participants were randomly assigned to be on one of two conditions, one being “own party” the other being “other-party” condition. In both situations, the participants conducted a few questionnaires while being asked to “think about the political party that you belong to. Now, think about members of the opposing political party” (Waytz et al. 2014, p. 15690). Subsequently, participants were asked to evaluate either what motivated their own party (own-party condition) or the opposing party (other-party condition) with a set list of items pertaining to love (x3 times) and to hate (x3 items). Each item was rated on a seven-point scale, one being low motivation, seven being high motivation. After these initial questions, the participants finished the study by providing political party and ideology affiliations. Again, scores were rated upon a seven-point scale, one being very liberal, seven being not liberal at all/very conservative.

 2. What They Found – Results:
Waytz et al. (2014) reported findings that supported their hypothesis: individuals presented higher reports of love motivations for their in-group questions, in comparison to higher levels of hate motivation responses for out-groups. Waytz et al. (2014) found that these findings point towards biased evaluations of out-group members and actions.
(Continued with 4 subsequent studies)

 3. Who Was Studied – Sample:
285 United States residents; accessed through mTurk

4. Study Name:
Waytz et al., 2014, Study 1

5. Citation:
Waytz, A., Young, L. L., & Ginges, J. (2014). Motive attribution asymmetry for love vs. hate drives intractable conflict. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(44), 15687-15692. doi:10.1073/pnas.1414146111

 6. Link:

7. Intervention categories:
Intergroup Conflict, Ingroup love, Outgroup hate, Attribution, Cognitive bias, Political ideology, Politics

 8. Sample size:

 9. Central Reported Statistic:
“People indicated that their own party was more motivated by love for their own party [mean (M) = 4.47, standard deviation (SD) = 1.31] than by hate for the other party (M = 3.63, SD = 1.17) and that the opposing party was more motivated by hate (M = 4.56, SD = 1.10) than love (M = 3.53, SD = 1.27).”