A new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests that positive perceptions of national institutions are associated with greater favoritism toward fellow citizens over foreigners.
This research, led by Dr. Giuliana Spadaro of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, marks a significant shift in our understanding of the impact of national institutions on social biases.
International Collaboration for Global Insights
The study involved over 3,200 participants from 17 countries.
This diverse array of participants engaged in specially designed trust games, providing a unique lens through which to view their biases and trust levels.
Contradicting long-standing assumptions, the findings suggest that confidence in national institutions doesn’t necessarily promote a general sense of trust.
Instead, it appears to reinforce in-group favoritism, creating barriers to establishing global trust.
This revelation offers a critical perspective in today’s globally interconnected society.
The Role of National Identity and Institutional Trust
Participants who identified strongly with their nation demonstrated a noticeable bias, showing increased trust and generosity towards their fellow nationals.
This aligns with previous research in social identity theory but adds a new dimension by linking these biases to the perception of national institutions.
The study’s most striking finding is the correlation between institutional trust and in-group favoritism.
Participants who viewed their domestic institutions positively showed a greater bias in favoritism, challenging the material security hypothesis that effective institutions cultivate general trust.
Implications for Society and Policy
These findings have implications for understanding discrimination and social dynamics.
They suggest that national identity and confidence in institutions might contribute to societal biases, an important consideration for policymakers and educators.
The study opens up numerous avenues for further research.
Understanding how individual perceptions of institutions influence societal dynamics is crucial, especially in our increasingly globalized world.
The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’s psychology department, along with its international collaborators, continues to explore these complex social phenomena.
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International Author Team
Dr. Spadaro, of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’s psychology department, led the study, which was published on June 26, 2023.
Co-authors include James H. Liu, Massey University, Albany, New Zealand; Robert Jiqi Zhang.
Massey University, Albany, New Zealand; Homero Gil De Zúñiga.
University of Salamanca, Spain; and Daniel Balliet, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands