Ingroup Versus Outgroup Perceptions of the Characteristics of High-Risk Youth: Negative Stereotyping

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Medicine and Health Sciences | Mental and Social Health | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology


Adolescents tend to categorize themselves and their peers into discrete ingroups and outgroups. A comparison of ingroup versus outgroup perceptions of the characteristics of high-risk youth was investigated. Based on current stereotype research, we examined the perspective that outgroup members would hold a more extreme stereotype of high-risk youth compared to the perceptions of ingroup members. A total of 955 7th- and 10th-grade southern California adolescents completed a questionnaire regarding the characteristics of their own peer group and a high-risk group. Support was obtained for an extremity of judgement effect. Outgroup youth perceived that their high-risk peers engaged in fewer school and nonschool low-risk activities, more high-risk activities, and greater drug use than did ingroup members. Outgroup members also held perceptions of high-risk youth as less likely to hold a white-collar job than did the ingroup members. The perceptions that adolescents have of these groups may play major roles in their own social behavior. The implications of these results for future tobacco use prevention programs are considered.

Rights Information

© 1993 V. H. Winston & Son, Inc.