United we stand: Attitudes and prosocial behavior between workgroups from a social identity and intergroup contact perspective.

Miriam Koschate-Reis

Research output: Book/ReportOther report


The present thesis investigates attitudes and prosocial behavior between workgroups from a social identity and intergroup contact perspective. Based on the Common In-group Identity Model (CIIM; Gaertner & Dvoidio, 2000), it is hypothesized that “optimal” conditions for contact (Allport, 1954) create a common identity at the organizational level which motivates workgroups to cooperate and show organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) rather than intergroup bias. Predictions based on the CIIM are extended with hypotheses derived from the In-group Projection Model (IPM; Mummendey & Wenzel, 1999) and the Self-Categorization Model of Group Norms (Terry & Hogg, 1996). Hypotheses are tested with data from N1 = 281 employees of N2 = 49 different workgroups and their workgroup managers of a German mail-order company (Study 1). Results indicate that group- and individual-level contact conditions are predictive of lower levels of intergroup bias and higher levels of cooperation and helping behavior. A common in-group representation mediates the effect on out-group attitudes and intergroup cooperation. In addition, the effect of a common in-group representation on intergroup bias is moderated by relative prototypicality, as predicted by the IPM, and the effect of prosocial group norms on helping behavior is moderated by workgroup identification, as predicted by the Self-Categorization Model of Group Norms.
A longitudinal study with Ntotal = 57 members of different student project groups replicates the finding that contact under “optimal” conditions reduces intergroup bias and increases prosocial behavior between organizational groups. However, a common in-group representation is not found to mediate this effect in Study 2.
Initial findings also indicate that individual-level variables, such as helping behavior toward members of another workgroup, may be better accounted for by variables at the same level of categorization (cf. Haslam, 2004). Thus, contact in a context that makes personal identities of workgroup members salient (i.e., decategorization) may be more predictive of interpersonal prosocial behavior, while contact in a context that makes workgroup identities salient (i.e., categorization) may be more predictive of intergroup prosocial behavior (cf. Tajfel, 1978). Further data from Study 1 support such a context-specific effect of contact between workgroups on interpersonal and intergroup prosocial behavior, respectively.
In the last step, a temporal integration of the contact contexts that either lead to decategorization, categorization, or recategorization are examined based on the Longitudinal Contact Model (Pettigrew, 1998). A first indication that a temporal sequence from decategorization via categorization to recategorization may be particularly effective in fostering intergroup cooperation is obtained with data from Study 2.
In order to provide a heuristic model for research on prosocial behavior between workgroups, findings are integrated into a Context-Specific Contact Model. The model proposes specific effects of contact in different contexts on prosocial behavior at different levels of categorization. Possible mediator and moderator processes are suggested. A number of implications for theory, future research and the management of relations between workgroups are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLandau, Germany
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2008


Dive into the research topics of 'United we stand: Attitudes and prosocial behavior between workgroups from a social identity and intergroup contact perspective.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this