Being a fringe-group (peripheral) member in one's group can cause individual pain (e.g., depression) and societal damage (e.g., violence). Whereas most research on feeling peripheral focuses on how the experience interrupts people's sense of belonging and increases ingroup bias, the present research explores why feeling different from the ingroup increases belonging needs. Building on uncertainty-identity theory, we propose that self-uncertainty results from not feeling prototypical and creates a motivational drive to increase ingroup behaviors. Three experiments support these hypotheses. Experiment 1 (N = 152) established that feeling peripheral elevates self-uncertainty. Experiment 2 (N = 77) demonstrated that feeling peripheral leads to increased group identification only for those who are self-uncertain and Experiment 3 (N = 319) showed that it leads to ingroup bias only for those who are self-uncertain. Overall, these findings demonstrate that feeling peripheral produces self-uncertainty, which leads people to engage in ingroup behaviors.
- Ingroup bias