Communicating anger and contempt in intergroup conflict: Exploring their relational functions

Bartholomeus de Vos


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Although the experience of anger in intergroup conflict is typically viewed as a destructive force that is best kept under wraps, the current dissertation suggests that its communication can help de-escalate intergroup conflict because of its relational function. Specifically, this entails that the communication of group-based anger emphasizes the importance of maintaining a positive long-term intergroup relationship in the context of signaling perceived injustices. As such, the communication of group-based anger may serve as a plea to the out-group to empathize with the in-group’s plight and to engage in reconciliation. This dissertation demonstrated this relational function in three different ways. First, an outgroup communication of group-based anger (but not contempt) was found to lower ingroup destructive conflict intentions because it increased empathy for the outgroup. Second, two antecedents were identified that may underlie this process, namely that the anger is based on clear injustices caused by the ingroup and/or that the anger is clearly based in the outgroup as a whole (i.e., it is group-based). And finally, contrasting anger and contempt’s opposite relational functions showed that in history-laden conflicts anger is most effective when communicated as presently felt (‘contemporizing’ the conflict), rather than felt in the past, with the reverse being true for contempt. Taken together, results across different contexts, populations, and historical backgrounds provided converging evidence for the relational functions of communicating group-based anger and contempt and, particularly, underline the important role they can play in facilitating intergroup conflict de-escalation.
Originele taal-2English
KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
Toekennende instantie
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • Gordijn, Ernestine, Supervisor
  • Postmes, Tom, Supervisor
  • van Zomeren, Martijn, Co-supervisor
Datum van toekenning24-sep-2015
Plaats van publicatie[Groningen]
Gedrukte ISBN's978-90-367-8094-0
Elektronische ISBN's978-90-367-8093-3
StatusPublished - 2015

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