Profit maximization versus disadvantageous inequality: The impact of self-categorization

Stephen M. Garcia, Avishalom Tor, Max H. Bazerman, Dale T. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Choice behavior researchers (e.g., Bazerman, Loewenstein, & White, 1992) have found that individuals tend to choose a more lucrative but disadvantageously unequal payoff (e.g., self - $600/other - $800) over a less profitable but equal one (e.g., self - $500/ other - $500); greater profit trumps interpersonal social comparison concerns in the choice setting. We suggest, however, that self-categorization (e.g., Hogg, 2000) can shift interpersonal social comparison concerns to the intergroup level and make trading disadvantageous inequality for greater profit more difficult. Studies 1-3 show that profit maximization diminishes when recipients belong to different social categories (e.g., genders, universities). Study 2 further implicates self-categorization, as self-categorized individuals tend to forgo profit whether making a choice for themselves or another ingroup member. Study 3, moreover, reveals that social categorization alone is not sufficient to diminish profit maximization; individuals must self-categorize and identify with their categorization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-198
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • Choice
  • Decision making
  • Fairness
  • Profit maximization
  • Self-categorization
  • Social comparison
  • Social identity
  • Trade-offs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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