Museum of Science, Boston

Ingroup Outgroup

Are there more of YOU or THEM?

Imagine standing in a crowd of people who support a cause that you believe in. Now imagine standing in a crowd of people who support the opposing side. Which crowd seems bigger? Previous research suggests that your emotional involvement can influence your estimation of the size of each group. In this study, we want to find out how membership in a group influences your numerical judgments.

During our study, adults and children will read a story involving two “teams” or “armies”, represented as red and black dots on a computer screen. We tell participants that they belong to one group (e.g., “the black team”) and that they are fighting the opposing group (e.g., “the red team”). Participants play a short video game where they must eliminate the opposing team’s dots from the screen. For some participants, the opposing group is described as harmless. For others, it is described as a serious threat. Next, all participants see a brief image with different numbers of red and black dots, and we ask them to estimate how many of each appeared.

We predict that people’s estimates will be affected by their membership in one of the two groups, and how they feel about the opposing group. If the opposing group seems threatening, people may be more likely to over-estimate the number of members of that group.

This study will help us further examine how the perception of group size varies depending on one’s membership in a group as well as one’s feelings about the group he or she is judging.

Learn about other research related to Human Biology.

This research is conducted by the Infant & Child Cognition Lab at Boston College

Try it at the Museum

Are you a PTC taster?

PTC is present in some vegetables, and some people can taste it very strongly, while others don’t taste it at all. Ask a volunteer for a PTC test strip. Are you a PTC taster or a non-taster? What about the other people in your group? How many people in the Human Body Connection do you think are tasters? What about non-tasters?

Try it at Home

Home Field Advantage

When watching a sports game, why do you think there is a home field advantage? Imagine you are playing on a baseball team in your home stadium, and the crowd is roaring – how big does the crowd seem to you? Now imagine you are playing in another team’s stadium, and this crowd is roaring too. How big is the crowd this time? Would you feel differently if you were worried about losing the game? What if the other team wasn’t a threat?