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Definition: A method for determining the polarity of a character in cladistic analysis of a taxonomic group. Character states found within the group being studied are judged ancestral it they occur also in related taxa outside the study group (= outgroups); character states that occur only within the taxon being studied but not in outgroups are judged to have been derived evolutionarily within the group being studied.
Source: Hickman, C.P., et al. 2011. Integrated Principles of Zoology. Fifteenth Edition. McGraw-Hill Higher Education.