Frustration-Affirmation? Thwarted Goals Motivate Compliance With Social Norms for Violence and Nonviolence

N. Pontus Leander*, Maximilian Agostini, Wolfgang Stroebe, Jannis Kreienkamp, Russell Spears, Toon Kuppens, Martijn Van Zomeren, Sabine Otten, Arie W. Kruglanski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

When thwarted goals increase endorsement of violence, it may not always reflect antisocial tendencies or some breakdown of self-regulation per se; such responses can also reflect an active process of self-regulation, whose purpose is to comply with the norms of one's social environment. In the present experiments (total N 2,145), the causal link between thwarted goals and endorsement of violent means (guns and war) was found to be contingent on perceptions that violence is normatively valued. Experiments 1-3 establish that thwarted goals increase endorsement of violence primarily among U.S. adults of a lower educational background and/or men who endorse a masculine honor culture. Experiment 4 manipulates the perceived normative consensus of college educated Americans, and demonstrates that thwarted goals increase college educated Americans' endorsement of whatever norm is salient: prowar or antiwar. Generalizing the model beyond violent means, Experiment 5 demonstrates that goal-thwarted Europeans report increased willingness to volunteer for refugee support activities if they perceive strong social norms to volunteer. Altogether, these findings support a frustration-affirmation model rather than frustration-aggression, whereby thwarted goals increase compliance with perceived norms for behavior, which can increase endorsement of violent means such as guns and war, but also nonviolent charitable actions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-271
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume119
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2020

Keywords

  • thwarted goals
  • group norms
  • guns
  • violence
  • social cognition
  • RACIAL-DISCRIMINATION
  • DISPLACED AGGRESSION
  • SELF-AFFIRMATION
  • PSYCHOLOGY
  • PURSUIT
  • THREAT
  • PERCEPTIONS
  • PERSONALITY
  • ACTIVATION
  • EDUCATION

Cite this