Depersonalization and Projection in Groups: Two Paths to Uncertainty Reduction
Research objectives: The current study tested whether the prevalence of depersonalization or projection is determined by the primary locus of uncertainty (self, group, group-self fit) and how effectively depersonalization and projection reduce uncertainty in groups. Hypotheses: Hypothesis 1. Self locus-of-uncertainty, in contrast to group locus-of-uncertainty, yields (a) greater uncertainty reduction, (b) stronger inference, (c) stronger group identification, (d) shorter processing time, and (e) the perception of lower relative self-prototypicality and higher interchangeability with other group members. Hypothesis 2. These effects of Group locus-of-uncertainty on the key dependent variables above are affected by self-prototypicality. In the Group locus-of-uncertainty condition, high self-prototypicality, in contrast to low or unknown self-prototypicality, yields (a) greater uncertainty reduction, (b) stronger inference, (c) stronger identification, (d) shorter processing time, and (e) the perception of higher relative self-prototypicality and lower interchangeability than low or unknown self-prototypicality. In the Self locus-of-uncertainty condition, there is no significant effect of self-prototypicality. Methods: A 2 locus-of-uncertainty (group vs. self) by 3 self-prototypicality (high vs. low vs. unknown) between-subjects experiment (N = 257) was conducted. Two variants of minimal group paradigm-(1) underestimator group vs. overestimator group in a dot esimtation task (2) X vs Y group-were combined to manipulate the locus of uncertainty. Main dependent variables include (a) uncertainty about the known (b) inference of the unknown, (c) three types of identification measure-(1) IAT d-score, (2) self-report identification scale, (3) second dot estimation score, (d) information processing time, and (e) perception of interchangeability/relative self-prototypicality. Results: The results supported the core hypotheses: (H1a) depersonalization reduced uncertainty about self more effectively than projection reduced uncertainty about group; (H1b) depersonalization yielded stronger group-to-self inference than projection did self-to-group inference; (H2c) non prototypical, minority members overestimated in the second (vs. first) dot estimation task when they felt uncertain about group than when they felt uncertain about self. The overestimation tendency was due to minority's erroneous inference about their ingroup knowledge, which resulted in minority’s group corrective behavior.