Responding to news about a natural disaster: The interplay of group identification and social cynicism in perceived prototypicality

Xiaohua Sylvia Chen, Yanjun Guan, Chin Ming Hui

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Two studies examined how members of Chinese subgroups, namely Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese, perceived attributes reflected by acts in positive and negative news about the Sichuan earthquake in China as prototypical of the superordinate category of Chinese as a whole. Mainland Chinese, but not Hong Kong Chinese, perceived positive acts as more prototypical of Chinese than negative acts, and identification with the superordinate category mediated this effect of subgroup membership on perceived prototypicality. In addition, cynical beliefs moderated the interaction between group identification and event valence on perceived prototypicality. When social cynicism was high, positive versus negative acts were considered as more prototypical of Chinese among high identifiers whereas the reverse pattern was found among low identifiers. However, when social cynicism was low, positive and negative acts were considered as equally prototypical regardless of Chinese identification. These results revealed the motivational and cognitive forces underlying the construction of group prototypes, and underscored the added value of social axioms in understanding perceptions of culturally salient events.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-597
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012


  • Group identification
  • Perceived prototypicality
  • Social axioms
  • Social cynicism
  • Social identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Business and International Management
  • Sociology and Political Science

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