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Status, identification and in-group favouritism of the unemployed compared to other social categories


  • Wahl, Ingrid
  • Pollai, Maria
  • Kirchler, Erich


The present study examines whether the unemployed differ from occupational categories, with regard to the perceived status of their category, identification with their category and the occurrence of in-group favouritism. According to social identity theory, members of low-status groups with permeable group boundaries often use the strategy of individual upward mobility to achieve a positive self-concept. As they strive to move into higher status groups, they do not identify with in-group members and do not favour the in-group over the out-group. It is therefore assumed that due to the low status of the unemployed in society, they negatively evaluate their in-group and do not identify with other in-group members. Results indicate that the unemployed indeed perceived a lower status of their category and identified less with their category than various occupational categories. Moreover, the unemployed did not show in-group favouritism, whereas most occupational categories did: the unemployed evaluated the in-group just as negatively as it was evaluated by the out-group (self-insight perspective). Moreover, they even evaluated the in-group more negatively than they evaluated the out-group, i.e., they displayed an out-group favouritism (social comparison perspective). Poor identification with the in-group and a lack of in-group favouritism could explain why the unemployed do not have a strong lobby to represent and jointly defend their interests in society.

Suggested Citation

  • Wahl, Ingrid & Pollai, Maria & Kirchler, Erich, 2013. "Status, identification and in-group favouritism of the unemployed compared to other social categories," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 37-43.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:43:y:2013:i:c:p:37-43
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2013.01.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    2. Gangl, Katharina & Kastlunger, Barbara & Kirchler, Erich & Voracek, Martin, 2012. "Confidence in the economy in times of crisis: Social representations of experts and laypeople," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 603-614.
    3. Ezzy, Douglas, 1993. "Unemployment and mental health: A critical review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 41-52, July.
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