By Judy Ashton
Originally published March 25, 2013
Here is an excerpt:
"Fundamentally, the research shows that we are programmed to treat in-group members differently than out-group members, possibly as an evolutionary legacy of survival in the ancestral environment," says UC marketing professor James Kellaris, the James S. Womack/Gemini Professor of Signage in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. "We tend to go easy on fellow in-group members and harder on strangers, due to complications of loyalty."
The entire story is here.
Here is the abstract to the research.
Once a matter of safety and survival, loyalty is a moral principle deeply rooted in human evolution—one that may wield a profound influence on ethical judgment and conceptions of just punishment. Consumers live in a complex Web of loyalty obligations woven through affiliations with marketers, fellow consumers, and other groups. This article examines how such affiliations shape consumers’ judgments of ethically controversial marketing conduct and preferences for punishment. In general, the more unethical an act is judged to be, the more severe the preferred punishment. However, the findings show that although consumers judge a controversial marketing act as more unethical when an in-group member targets the consumer's in-group (vs. out-group), a more lenient punishment is preferred (Study 1). Additionally, the extent to which one embraces loyalty as a moral value appears to mediate the relationship between group affiliations and preferred punishment (Study 2). This is a bias participants deny having, but believe others exhibit. This research finds evidence of loyalty to the principle of loyalty itself. A person will view an out-group member transgressing a member from that same out-group with disdain similar to that accorded an in-group member who transgresses the in-group, because the innate badness of the act is compounded by the stigma of disloyalty.
That article is here, behind a paywall, and hopefully accessible through your university library.