Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Clive Seligman


A new framework is proposed to examine the effects of intergroup competition on discrimination by assessing the influence of participants’ subjective construal of potentially competitive events. It posits that competitive intergroup perceptions (CIP; the perception that one’s ingroup and another group(s) are attempting to gain a reward or desired outcome at the expense of each other) and competitive intergroup motivations (CIM; the desire for one’s ingroup to acquire more of a reward than the other group(s)) are related but distinct constructs. This distinction implies that CIP and CIM should be strongly related, but not to the point of suggesting they are the same variable. A distinction between CIP and CIM also implies that both constructs can be elicited and experimentally manipulated independently of each other. Most importantly, this distinction implies that both constructs will have unique influences on intergroup behaviour. Although this approach has not been systematically investigated previously, the intergroup relations literature suggests two potential explanations by which CIP and CIM may lead to discrimination: i) CIP and CIM have unique, additive effects on intergroup discrimination (the independence perspective); and ii) CIM is the primary contributor to discrimination, such that CIM is more strongly related with discriminatory behaviour than CIP, and that CIP leads to discriminatory behaviour only when CIM is strong (the motivational perspective).

These ideas were examined in three studies that assessed and/or manipulated self-reported CIP and CIM within an intergroup context, then assessed discriminatory intentions or behaviour towards a relevant outgroup. The results of these studies collectively supported the construct validity of the proposed framework: CIP and CIM were positively and non-redundantly related with each other, affected to differing degrees by experimental manipulations that were designed for each variable, and had generally distinct influences on intergroup behaviour. Studies 1-3 generally attested to the primary role of CIM over CIP in predicting intergroup discrimination; however, Studies 2-3 illustrated that experimentally-augmented levels of CIM did not lead to very strong discriminatory behaviour without high levels of CIP. The proposed framework may be instrumental in generating more thorough insights on the processes and social consequences of competitive group dynamics.