Perceiving emotional complaints from an out-group: the consequences of communicating anger and sadness

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic


In Europe, the arrival and treatment of refugees has become a prominent topic in everyday discourse. Sometimes refugees express that they are dissatisfied with the treatment they receive from a host country. We investigated how people respond to such complaints. More specifically, we examined whether the attitude towards refugees influence empathy and support for policies that benefit or harm the welfare of the refugees, when refugees complain about their treatment in either an angry, sad, or neutral way. In three experiments, participants were subjected to an angry, sad, or neutral complaint from refugees, after participants’ attitude towards refugees was measured. Much support was found for the hypothesis that the attitude predicts out-group empathy and positive policy support. Further, results suggested that people with a positive attitude towards refugees felt empathy towards refugees regardless of communicated emotion, while the positive effect of communicated emotion (anger or sadness) is only found when the attitude towards refugees is more neutral, while expressed anger tended to have negative consequences on those with a negative attitude towards refugees. Implications for the literature and directions for future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15-Dec-2017
EventASPO Conference - VU Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 14-Dec-201715-Dec-2017


ConferenceASPO Conference

Cite this