Steeling Ourselves: Intragroup Communication while Anticipating Intergroup Contact Evokes Defensive Intergroup Perceptions

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Abstract

Two experiments investigated the role of intragroup communication in intergroup conflict (de-)escalation. Experiment 1 examined the effects of intragroup communication (vs. individual thought) and anticipated face-to-face intergroup contact (vs. no anticipated face-to-face intergroup contact). The group discussions of stigmatized group members who anticipated face-to-face intergroup contact revolved more around intergroup hostility. This boosted ingroup identification and increased social creativity but also led to steeling (a hardening of perceived intergroup relations). In Experiment 2, new participants listened to the taped group discussions. The discussions of groups anticipating face-to-face intergroup contact evoked more intergroup anxiety-related discomfort than discussions of groups not anticipating face-to-face intergroup encounters. Together, these results support the idea that steeling is a defensive reaction to prepare for an anxiety-arousing intergroup confrontation. Although steeling is also associated with positive consequences such as increased ingroup solidarity and social creativity, this hardened stance may be an obstacle to conflict de-escalation.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0131049
Number of pages23
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume10
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22-Jun-2015

Keywords

  • INTERGROUP CONFLICT
  • COMMUNICATION
  • SOCIAL COGNITION
  • INTERGROUP CONTACT
  • INGROUP IDENTIFICATION
  • small group
  • CONSTRUAL-LEVEL THEORY

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