Group boundary permeability moderates the effect of a dependency meta‐stereotype on help‐seeking behaviour

Lange Zhang, Yu Kou, Yunlong Zhao, Xinyuan Fu
Published Online:
17 Apr 2015
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 51 Issue 4

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Previous studies have found that when low‐status group members are aware that their in‐group is stereotyped as dependent by a specific out‐group (i.e. a dependency meta‐stereotype is salient), they are reluctant to seek help from the high‐status out‐group to avoid confirming the negative meta‐stereotype. However, it is unclear whether low‐status group members would seek more help in the context of a salient dependency meta‐stereotype when there is low (vs. high) group boundary permeability. Therefore, we conducted two experiments to examine the moderating effect of permeability on meta‐stereotype confirmation with a real group. In study 1, we manipulated the salience of the dependency meta‐stereotype, measured participants' perceived permeability and examined their help‐seeking behaviour in a real‐world task. Participants who perceived low permeability sought more help when the meta‐stereotype was salient (vs. not salient), whereas participants who perceived high permeability sought the same amount of help across conditions. In study 2, we manipulated the permeability levels and measured the dependency meta‐stereotype. Participants who endorsed a high‐dependency meta‐stereotype sought more help than participants who endorsed a low‐dependency meta‐stereotype; this effect was particularly strong in the low‐permeability condition. The implications of these results for social mobility and intergroup helping are discussed.

© 2015 International Union of Psychological Science