Being treated fairly in groups is important, but not sufficient: The role of distinctive treatment in groups, and its implications for mental health

Christopher T. Begeny*, Yuen J. Huo, Heather J. Smith, Michelle K. Ryan

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

5 Citaten (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Organizations and other groups often recognize the importance of members treating each other in a fair (dignified, unbiased) manner. This type of treatment is key to fostering individuals' sense of belonging in the group. However, while a sense of belonging is important, individuals also need to be shown that they have some distinct value to the group-enabling them to not only "fit in"but also "stand out."Building from research on fair treatment, we explicate another form, distinctive treatment, whereby others show interest and appreciation for an individual's more distinguishing, group-relevant qualities. In six studies using multiple methods (e.g., experimental, longitudinal) and in multiple types of groups (work organizations, student communities, racial/ethnic minority groups), we show that fair and distinctive treatment play fundamentally different roles-shaping individuals' perceived belonging versus intragroup standing, respectively-and with downstream benefits for mental health (less anxiety, fewer depressive symptoms). Overall, this illustrates that promoting fair treatment in groups is important, but not sufficient. Experiencing distinctive treatment is also key. Each type of treatment provides unique social evaluative information that fosters a healthy sense of self. This research further indicates that distinctive treatment may be a vital yet overlooked element to promoting diversity and inclusion in groups, as it provides a path for recognizing and appreciating, and thus encouraging, a diversity of ideas, insights, knowledge and skills that individuals bring to the group.

Originele taal-2English
TijdschriftPLoS ONE
Nummer van het tijdschrift5
StatusPublished - mei-2021

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