Easily Deal with Favoritism at Work

Are you working with a team of people and feeling left out? Do you wish that your hard work doesn't go unnoticed? There could be simple explanations as to why things are the way they are. We'll explore those in detail.
Easily Deal with Favoritism at Work
We all know about favoritism and nepotism. They are a major problem in the workplace, especially in business environments where competition is high, and resources are limited. Sadly enough, a place can slow down your career progression. Let's examine at what favoritism is and how this affects our business environment.

People, according to social psychology, construct categorizations and split others into these categories. In other words, we form groups based on nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, preferences, occupation, and so on. As a result, some people will be in our group while others will not, resulting in ingroup bias.

What is ingroup bias (favouritism)?

Ingroup bias, also known as ingroup favoritism, is the tendency of members of a group to prefer, benefit, or appreciate members of their group more than members of other groups. We are more likely to trust someone who belongs to our "ingroup."

What causes this to happen? Social Psychology Explanations

Many theoretical ideas in social psychology have been made to explain why members of a group prefer to rate their group more positively, and how this evaluation is related to the negative appraisal of the other group. Here are some theories that have provided explanations for the ingroup bias:

Theory of social identity and self-concept

In the 1950s, British psychologist Henry Tajfel conducted groundbreaking research on categorical perception. He studied the effects of classification on discriminating behavior, among other things. Turner and Brown reworked these findings in the 1970s, finally developing the Social Identity Theory and the Self-Categorization Theory of the Self.

In general, they proposed that to develop an identity, the act of categorization must include specific cognitive components. In other words, many of the aspects that constitute our identity are related to our membership in various groups and social categories. As a result, self-concept (the image we have of ourselves) is built through social identity, which is always linked to categories and roles.

Thus, self-concept and self-esteem are bonded through identification with social groupings; as a result, they mirror the norms and practices expected in a specific group. In this sense, the ingroup bias occurs as a means of sustaining self-esteem by emphasizing distinctions between the ingroup and the outgroup (known as the accentuation principle); this requires identification with a social group as well as comparison with others.


Theory of conflict and competition

Muzafer and Carolyn Sherif showed, using the thieves' cave experiment, that a competitive situation increases the ingroup's hatred toward the outgroup.

In contrast, an environment in which tasks requiring cooperation predominate and members of diverse groups work together to achieve common goals may reduce such hostility. When group members struggle for limited resources, they develop ingroup prejudice and negative sentiments toward the exogroup, according to their findings.

Theory of ingroup abrogation

Although ingroup prejudice particularly refers to preferential treatment of the ingroup over the outgroup, multicultural studies have also provided explanations for the reverse phenomena.

That is when members of a group prefer members of the ingroup above members of the outgroup. This is especially true when the ingroup is a social minority. According to some research, persons from more collectivist cultures view their group less favorably than the exogroup (although they score individual members highly), whereas people from more individualistic cultures rate the ingroup more favorably and each member badly.


Conflict and ingroup bias

The study of intergroup connections and confrontation leads to the development of ingroup bias. This bias is the result of intergroup conflict, which is produced by opposing interests or having incompatible goals. Two groups may have the same goal, but if one achieves it, it indicates that the other will not.

Soccer is an example of this. Soccer fans identify with their team; hence they form a category that includes supporters of their team but excludes supporters of other teams. In the soccer league, on the other hand, the goal is to win the championship or league. However, only one team may win. As a result, if my group is Real Madrid, we will come into conflict with fans of other teams, especially if they pose a threat since we believe they have a better chance of winning the league than our team

Another good example of ingroup bias could be when an employer prefers to hire a person who has attended the same university as the employer.

The degree of the dispute can be increased or decreased. This will be determined by our participation in our group as well as other criteria. However, in terms of ingroup bias, our beliefs, opinions, interests, and even behaviors will modify. For example, we will perceive individuals from other teams to be more hostile and hated, leading us to treat them worse while treating our team's supporters better.


Investigation of ingroup bias

Ingroup bias does not have to be caused by competing interests or conflicts, according to further study. Members of another group were looked down on simply for belonging to another group. Although members of other groups are not always looked down upon, ingroup bias partiality always appears. We will favor our group regarding reward distribution, trait assignment, and performance rating.

This new study has also discovered an explanation for ingroup bias. We find that individuals are characterized in part by their membership groups, assuming that people are motivated to develop or maintain a positive self-concept and self-image. As a result, if a person wishes to acquire a favorable image, he or she must also make the perceptions of his or her group positive, so that individuals are driven to evaluate the organizations in which they participate positively.


How does one come to have a favorable opinion of one's group?

Comparison is used to evaluate groups. We don't say our group is good; rather, we say it is better than another or the best of all. As a result, when we compare our group to others, we will receive a positive appraisal, and our self-esteem will rise. The conclusion is that we will attempt to differentiate our group, to make it better than the others. This is referred to as positive ingroup distinctiveness.

In contrast, four conditions must be present for ingroup bias to occur and for our views, judgments, and behaviors to alter as a result of the search for positive group distinctiveness:

· People must identify with their group and utilize it to define themselves.

· Comparisons with other groups must be conducted based on a significant trait of the group.

· The group with whom the comparison is made must be considered very important.

· The real placements of the groups being compared must be ambiguous.


Minimize Ingroup Bias

Affirmative Action and affordable housing programs are a way to minimize ingroup bias and build a more equal society. Becoming conscious of group bias is one way of decreasing this tendency, which is why there is so much debate in the country about the wage difference that exists between men and women, and between white women and women of color.

Our country's leaders have mostly been members of one ingroup: white, straight, rich men. So it's not unexpected that the majority of people in positions of power and at the top of the food chain are white, straight, rich men. However, when we begin to explore group biases and their role in our society, we may begin to see changes.

Ingroup bias could have a great impact in the real world, this attitudes frequently contribute to bias and even dislike toward members of the outgroup and may create situations such as bullying and make people feel excluded or threatened. In work areas, it can cause workers to feel less favored than others and can harm their job performance or give a bad image to the company. Or there may be larger conflicts where one group defines an outgroup as an enemy or threat that may harm people's lives.

Ingroup Bias in the Workplace

A large part of our day-to-day life is formed by the work environment. Whether in the job search or the exercise of the same, in the relationship with our colleagues, in meetings for decision making, or in the search for a new member for the team. It is important to mention that ingroup bias is a human survival instinct that can create erroneous perceptions about a person or situation and mark behaviors that can be discriminating. We set ourselves a clear challenge that we must be aware of and learn to identify which are beneficial and which can be harmful to a person.

Several ingroup biases can occur in the workplace and the most important thing is to know how to identify them when they occur in a given situation. Some of the most common are affinity bias, which occurs when we are introduced to someone who shares our values, hobbies, or background, and we see them as superior to others. That is when we judge people who are similar or related to us more favorably. Another example is the anchoring effect which occurs when we make subsequent judgments based on a person's initial information or simply that which we have. Meta-bias can also occur which is the tendency to be oblivious to one's own cognitive biases and to believe that one is less biased than others. 

We may encounter various types of biases, but the important thing is to know how to identify them to prevent falling into them more frequently and, if possible, to avoid them. 

Minimize Ingroup Bias in the Workplace

A very useful way to eliminate group bias in the working environment is the realization of integration and team-building events. These types of events are much more complex because there have specific objectives and messages that want to be transmitted and that can be related to the mission, vision, or other aspects that the organization determines. The activities are thematic events that seek to motivate staff to achieve a common goal of the company. These themes are adapted to the different formats that exist, according to the specific needs of the companies. The intention is to strengthen ties between collaborators, and, usually, they are carried out around some concept, such as the values of the company, for example, but in a playful way.

Events such as team building aim to build teams and are made up of a series of dynamics, talks, and games with the purpose of stimulating communication and teamwork. Team building activities are those that help to develop workplace relationships. They promote cohesion and teamwork among coworkers and are typically planned outside of working hours to create a sense of shared relaxation and spare time. It is now one of the most important tools in the growth of work teams.

These integration dynamics not only manage to motivate and integrate collaborators within an organization but also work to unite disintegrated groups. The objective is to make both groups feel that they are part of the same team and that they collaborate and work together for the same purpose.

Everyone who owns a business or leads a team understands that one of the most important things to keep in mind is the union of employees, but it can be so obvious that it is easily overlooked. That is why team building is essential. A good working environment boosts motivation and fosters a sense of community.

In Teamland, you can find several types of team activities with the objective of awakening that feeling of a union as a company. All types of events whether virtual, in-person, or hybrid will help you to integrate groups with fun activities to encourage teamwork. 

Teamland will assist you in reinforcing three fundamental foundations among employees: motivation, teamwork, and experiences. They also increase personal communication among colleagues, foster a positive attitude, and establish long-term working ties in this manner.

The different activities that are carried out are focused on strengthening team spirit and increasing empathy among employees, improving emotional bonds, and providing a learning experience. In addition, the relaxed atmosphere in which team building takes place encourages the participation of all employees and brings out new talents that had remained hidden.

It improves motivation and a good attitude, which contributes to the growth of staff productivity. If the exercises are completed satisfactorily, confidence grows, and it serves as a motivator for their performance at work. It encourages healthy competition and enables the identification of strengths and weaknesses. Team Building activities demand participants to face a problem resolution. Collaboration and individual abilities stimulate innovative thought and cooperation.

Finally, we are not always conscious of the repercussions of membership in a group. One of them is preferring members of our group over members of other groups. As a result, understanding the impacts and being aware of group identification is the first step toward managing their impact on us and to be able to avoid serious repercussions that could be prejudicial to the other individual and ourselves. As well as now several team-building tools can help groups come together and have a better relationships. 

At Teamland, we believe in the benefits of Team Building, and we have the best experts in events and activities to help you find your ideal team.

Author Details

Written by:
Najeeb Khan
Head of Training & Events
Leadership Development, Team Training, Belonging, Diversity & Inclusion, & Innovation
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