Testing the limits of tolerance: How intergroup anxiety amplifies negative and offensive responses to out-group-initiated contact

Martijn Van Zomeren*, Agneta H. Fischer, Russell Spears

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Three studies examine the amplifying effects of intergroup anxiety on individuals' negative and offensive responses to out-group-initiated contact. Because intergroup anxiety typically results in avoidance of the initiation of intergroup contact, these studies explored how intergroup anxiety affected individuals' interpretation of and responses to out-group-initiated contact. The authors hypothesized that intergroup anxiety amplifies individuals' threat appraisal of out-group-initiated contact as well as their feelings of anger and offensive action tendencies toward the out-group. Results showed consistent support for these hypotheses by demonstrating that intergroup anxiety amplified individuals' threat appraisal (Studies 2 and 3), anger (Studies 1-3), and offensive action tendencies toward the out-group (Study 2). Anger consistently predicted offensive action tendencies (Studies 2-3). Thus, intergroup anxiety decreased individuals' limits of tolerance by increasing their threat appraisal of out-group-initiated contact. The results are discussed in relation to theories of threat, emotion, and tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1686-1699
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and social psychology bulletin
Volume33
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • intergroup anxiety
  • threat
  • anger
  • norm transgression
  • intergroup contact
  • INTEGRATED THREAT THEORY
  • ACTION TENDENCIES
  • PSYCHOLOGY
  • DIMENSIONS
  • PREJUDICE
  • APPRAISAL
  • ATTITUDES
  • EMOTION
  • ANGER

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