Until recently, intergroup relations research has undervalued the role of emotion. This dissertation examines how people's emotional reactions to challenges to their cherished values--symbolic threats--shape social attitudes. I argue that people respond with distinct emotions depending on whether the symbolic threat comes from within their ingroup or from outsiders, and that these emotions explain why those who feel that their cultural values are threatened are less accepting and tolerant of outsiders. Using a survey, Study 1 showed that when participants believed that Muslims rejected core American values, they felt angry at and less sympathy toward Muslim immigrants, and in turn, opposed granting civil rights to Muslim immigrants. Participants who believed that Americans, in general, disagreed on the importance of different values felt less proud to be American and held more negative attitudes toward Americans. Study 2 showed a similar pattern of results with a different outgroup. Participants--particularly those high in authoritarianism--felt disgusted and angry with, as well as less proud of, gays and lesbians. Negative emotions explained why high authoritarians who perceived gays as a symbolic threat expressed intolerant attitudes toward gays and lesbians. Using an experimental manipulation of symbolic threat, Study 3 partially replicated the findings from Study 1. High threat from Muslim immigrants led to anger at Muslim immigrants, which in turn, predicted more negative attitudes toward Muslim immigrants. High threat from within the American ingroup made people--especially authoritarians--less proud of Americans, which predicted more negative attitudes toward the ingroup.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2011. Major:Psychology. Advisors: Eugene Borgida, Christopher Federico. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 306 pages, appendices A-L.
Hunt, Corrie Valentine.
When worldviews collide: the role of emotion in reactions to symbolic threats..
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