Do we look like me or like us? Visual projection as self- or ingroup-projection.

Roland Imhoff*, Ron Dotsch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


People see their own group as more typical of a larger, superordinate category than they see other, included subgroups (ingroup-projection). This basic effect is not restricted to verbally encoded characteristics but also expands to the domain of what people think superordinate group members typically look like. Despite the robustness of the ingroup-projection phenomenon, it could be argued that it is a side effect of an even more basic process of seeing groups and individuals as similar primarily to the self (self-projection). In the present research, the authors sought to address and rule out this potential alternative explanation of visual ingroup-projection as an artifact of self-projection to the subgroup and the superordinate group. Thirty-one participants completed three two-image, forced-choice reverse correlation image classification tasks to create subjective, prototypical images, called classification images, of (a) themselves; (b) their national ingroup (German); and (c) the larger, superordinate group (European). With the use of partial pixel correlations, the objective, unique physical similarity between pairs of classification images was calculated. Both the self-image and the ingroup image independently predicted the superordinate group image, indicating that both self-projection and ingroup-projection contribute to visual mental representations of superordinate group faces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-816
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013




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