What shapes our emotional responses to socio-political events? Following the social identity approach, we suggest that individuals adjust their emotional responses to socio-political stimuli based on their ideological out-group's responses, in a manner that preserves the comparative and normative fit of ideological in-group–out-group categories. In Study 1 and Study 2 (pre-registered), Jewish-Israeli leftists and rightists were exposed to their ideological out-group's alleged emotional response to a stimulus associated with Israeli-Palestinian relations, which was either stereotypical (leftists expressing low anger and rightists expressing high anger) or non-stereotypical (leftists expressing high anger and rightists expressing low anger). Across studies, participants reported more positive affect towards their ideological out-group when its response to the stimulus was non-stereotypical versus stereotypical, yet their own response to the stimulus became more “extreme” (towards the low end of the anger scale for leftists, and towards the high end of the anger scale for rightists), shifting farther away from their ideological out-group norm. Our findings suggest that in highly polarized contexts, where “leftist” and “rightist” identities are largely defined in comparison to one another, the “positioning” of ideological groups relative to one another plays a role in shaping their responses to their shared socio-political reality.
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© 2023 The Authors. British Journal of Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society.
- group-based emotions
- intergroup relations
- political ideology
- self-categorization theory
- social identity theory