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Insider/Outsider Activity

During this activity, participants identify aspects of inclusion and exclusion, more commonly known as insider and outsider groupings. The activity can be completed in small or large groups.


During this activity, students identify aspects of inclusion and exclusion, also commonly known as insider and outsider groupings. One objective of this activity is to ensure that all students realize that everyone has experienced being both an "insider" and being an "outsider." Another objective is to encourage students to take the perspective of those who are excluded and to consider how those negative feelings affect others' behavior in social situations. This activity can be completed in small or large groups and can be used as an icebreaker at the beginning of the semester or as a way to generate discussion about ingroups and outgroups when that topic is addressed in a course.

Estimated Time

10-20 minutes

Group Size

This activity can be adjusted for different group sizes.  


Step One: Collect Outsider Emotions

•    Explain that this exercise will help students experience what it feels like to be both an outsider and an insider.
•    Ask students to think of a time when they were in a team or a group and they were different from others in the group.
•    Students then think of one or two words that describes how they felt at that time.
•    After students have had time to think of the words, they walk around the room, introducing themselves to as many people as possible, using those words.  Provide an example (e.g., Hi! I'm awkward and confused.)  For larger groups, they can turn to the two or three others standing next to them and introduce themselves using those words. Another option for large groups is to have students text their emotions using the online software Poll Everywhere ( or use clickers. The instructor can then project the results to the class.

Step Two: Collect Outsider Feelings

•    Have students call out what feeling words they heard.  Record them under the "Different Feelings" column.

Step Three: Collect Insider Feelings:

•    Without going through the step of introductions, have students think of a time when they were in a team or group and felt included.
•    Have them call out words that describe how they felt in that situation.

Step Four: Collect Insider and Outsider Behaviors

•    Ask students to list their behaviors when they felt they were excluded by the group.  Provide an example (e.g., I would not participate in the discussion if I felt excluded).
•    Repeat this procedure for the times they felt included.  Provide an example (e.g., I might talk to the person next to me if I felt included).
•    Watch that they actually use behavioral words; participants have a tendency to use feeling words again. For example, if someone says "I would act angry," ask them how they would act when they felt angry.


  • Two flip charts or a board on which to write lists in front of the class
  • Marker or chalk to write on chart or board