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Paradoxes of praise: Identity‐inconsistent praise results in praise‐inconsistent responses


European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


In four experimental studies, we explored the effect of consistency between central group values and the content of group‐directed praise on group‐based esteem, group identification, and willingness to express attitudes and intentions (in)consistent with the content of praise. Study 1 used pre‐existing groups with clearly defined central values, Study 2 relied on individual differences in perceptions of central group values within the same social group, and Studies 3 and 4 manipulated the centrality of group values experimentally. The results demonstrated that identity‐inconsistent praise resulted in lower group‐based esteem (Studies 1–4), and reduced group identification (Study 4), as compared to identity‐consistent praise. In addition, in all studies, identity‐inconsistent praise led to stronger willingness to reaffirm (the ignored) central group characteristics than identity‐consistent praise. The results are consistent with extensions of the self‐verification approach to the collective self.