In Group Favoritism

What is In Group Favoritism?

Imagine you’re in a cafeteria and you have an extra cookie. You look around and have to decide who you’ll give it to. In group favoritism is when you choose someone because they’re part of your circle—maybe they’re wearing the same sports team jersey as you, or they’re in your art class. It’s this quiet nudge that tells you “Hey, they’re one of us; let’s treat them better.” Even if we like to think we see everyone as equals, our brains are wired to be a bit kinder, more forgiving, or more supportive to those we view as similar to us. This can be based on hobbies, backgrounds, beliefs, or the experiences we share. While this doesn’t sound too bad on the surface, it’s what’s beneath that can get tricky—often leading us to act unfairly without even noticing.

Simply put, in group favoritism is our tendency to favor people within our own group over those outside of it. This can be a sports team, a school club, or even your group of friends. It’s natural to feel a sense of loyalty and closeness to these “insiders”—often giving them special treatment and privileges that “outsiders” don’t receive. This bias can sneak into our decisions in subtle ways, influencing who we choose to hang out with, who we offer help to, and who we stand up for, often without us being fully aware of it. As harmless as it may seem at the start, this preference can have broader impacts, making us unintentionally exclusive and less open to diverse perspectives.

Examples of In Group Favoritism

  • Sports Fans: Think about how fans rush to buy tickets for their hometown team and cheer them on, even if they aren’t the best team. This is in group favoritism because it shows how our support goes first to those we feel connected to.
  • School Spirit: During school events, you might notice everyone gets really excited to support their school’s teams or groups against another school. Here, the in group is the school, and we naturally want “our people” to win.
  • Family Gatherings: At family reunions, you might share more stories or jokes with your closer relatives compared to distant ones. Your immediate family is your in group, and it’s normal to bond more closely with them.
  • Work Environments: In an office, you may find that people from the same department are more likely to have lunch together than with people from other departments. They’re not excluding others on purpose; it’s just in group favoritism at play because they share common work experiences.
  • Community Support: Consider how a neighborhood might come together to support a local business. People often feel a strong bond with their community and want to see it thrive, again showing preference towards their in group.

These examples highlight how in group favoritism is reflected in our daily interactions. It’s not just about personal feelings; it’s a pattern of us unintentionally giving preferential treatment to those we identify with, which can sometimes exclude or disadvantage others outside of our circle.

Dealing with In Group Favoritism

  • Learn About It: Recognizing and understanding in group favoritism can be the first step to noticing when it affects our thoughts and actions.
  • Get to Know Outsiders: Diversifying your circle and spending time with people from different groups helps to build empathy and can reduce the bias.
  • Be Fair: Strive to make choices based on fairness, not just on group dynamics. This can help ensure that everyone is treated equally, regardless of group membership.
  • Speak Up: When you observe in group favoritism causing unfair treatment, it’s important to voice your concern. This can help address any bias present and encourage fairness.
  • Mix It Up: Creating opportunities for people from different groups to work or socialize together can foster new connections and break down barriers.

Related Biases and Concepts

  • Out Group Negativity: This happens when people not only favor their in group but also actively treat individuals from outside groups more harshly or with less kindness.
  • Stereotyping: When we assume all people in a group are the same and label them, it feeds into in group favoritism by reinforcing the idea that our group’s characteristics are superior or the norm.
  • Confirmation Bias: This is when our brain looks for information that supports our existing beliefs and ignores what doesn’t. If we think our group is better, we’ll likely only see evidence that agrees with that view.

Why is In Group Favoritism Important?

Understanding in group favoritism is essential because it can shape the world in big ways, like who gets certain jobs, which communities receive more resources, and even how laws are made and enforced. When we favor our in group, we’re less likely to challenge ideas, try new things, or hear different points of view. This can lead to a less diverse and less interesting world. On a personal level, you could miss out on meeting awesome people or learning cool new things because of it.

For example, when a teacher always picks the same students to help out in class, those not chosen repeatedly may start to feel like they’re not as good and give up trying. Another example is when a business only hires people they know, they might miss out on talented people who could bring fresh ideas just because they aren’t part of the usual group. In the long run, this can create unfair situations and stop communities and societies from being as fair and inclusive as possible.

Debates and Controversies

Some argue that in group favoritism isn’t all bad—it can give us a sense of belonging and support. The real challenge arises when it leads to exclusivity and unfairness. This debate is about balancing the positive aspects of group loyalty with the need for impartiality and equal treatment for all. The question is whether we should fight against in group favoritism or accept it as part of human nature that must be managed sensibly.


In group favoritism is a natural human tendency to prioritize and favor those who are similar to us or who are part of the same group. It’s like instinctively sharing an umbrella with someone from your school rather than a stranger in the rain. It can create warmth and unity but also unintentional exclusion and unfairness. By raising awareness and encouraging interaction beyond our immediate circles, we can help create a more inclusive environment. Understanding how in group favoritism works, and actively working against its negative effects, can lead us to a more fair, diverse, and enriching society where everyone has the chance to shine and feel valued, much like ensuring every friend at the sundae party gets to pick a favorite topping for the shared dessert.