Threat by association: how distant events can affect local intergroup relations

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In today’s globalized world, local societies host an increasing amount of cultural groups. Although this diversification clearly has its merits, cultural minorities also frequently face intolerance by host-society members. Whereas most explanations for this intolerance focus on perceived actions of the local cultural minorities themselves, this dissertation focuses on whether perceived threats from other—more distant—outgroups can also induce local intolerance through "carry-over effects”.

This potential influence of distant events on local intergroup relations is particularly relevant in the current global village, in which the media frequently confront individuals with international events that could induce feelings of intergroup threat (e.g., Arab uprisings, Greek economic crisis). Indeed, the findings of this dissertation suggest that messages conveying (potential) threats from distant outgroups (e.g., Islamic State, Greeks) can cause negative feelings toward local cultural minorities (e.g., Turkish-, Moroccan-, and Indonesian-Dutch citizens), particularly when these local outgroups are associated with the distant outgroup—for instance, by means of a shared superordinate outgroup membership (e.g., “Muslims”). Interestingly, in contrast to the support found for carry-over effects of distant threats, no such carry-over effects emerged for positive information about a distant situation.

By focusing on distant intergroup threats and how they can carry over into local intolerance we added a new dimension to the analysis of local intolerance. When distant and local outgroups are associated with each other in the mind of the observer, negative distant events can indeed negatively influence local intergroup relationships.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Otten, Sabine, Supervisor
  • van Zomeren, Martijn, Co-supervisor
Award date14-Jan-2016
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-90-367-8473-3
Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-8472-6
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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