Two studies demonstrate that, in order to cope with social identity threat, strongly but not weakly group-identified individuals make attributions of relatively poor group performance to low group effort rather than ability. However, this only takes place when such group members perceive negative group outcomes of intergroup comparisons as relatively illegitimate and unstable. Results demonstrate that such biased attributions were stronger for highly but not weakly identified participants when perceptions of the ingroup’s low status were induced to be illegitimate (but not when they were induced to be legitimate) – as their perceptions of the group low status as being unstable over time increased in parallel. This, in turn, ameliorated their subsequent affect. These findings point to a fairness-based account of coping with social identity threat through biased effort attributions: Perceived low effort on the part of the ingroup may suggest factors potentially within group control in the future (Weiner, 1986) (as opposed to the less controllable low ability), which may in turn suggest that the ingroup does not deserve the self-threatening low status.
Coping with intergroup threat via biased attributions to low group effort: The moderating roles of ingroup identification, legitimacy, and instability of intergroup status / Costarelli, Sandro. - In: SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY. - ISSN 1864-9335. - 43:1(2012), pp. 47-59. [10.1027/1864-9335/a000083]