Social, sniffy, or guilty? : Advantaged group's emotional reactions to inter-group inequality

Harth, Nicole Syringa

This dissertation dealt with the question how members of relative advantaged groups experience inter-group inequality in terms of emotions. In bringing together research on social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979), relative deprivation theory (e.g., H.J. Smith & Kessler, 2004), and theory of group-based emotions (E.R. Smith, 1993, 1999), it has been reasoned that there are different ways in which the relative advantaged experience inequality. It was assumed that emotions serve as explanations of whether the advantaged are likely to promote or hinder social change. Five studies manipulated the dimensions of focus and legitimacy (cf. Leach, Snider, & Iyer, 2002) to distinguish the group-based emotions of pride, existential guilt, pity, and sympathy about inter-group inequality: As predicted, pride was especially intense when in-group advantage was legitimate, whereas existential guilt was most intense when in-group advantage was illegitimate. Sympathy was most intense when outgroup disadvantage was illegitimate; the results for pity, however, were mixed. The strongest findings concerning behavioral tendencies were found for pride and sympathy: The more intense pride was, the more the advantaged tried to affirm inequality. By contrast, sympathy motivated support of the disadvantaged and the challenge of inequality. These results show the specificity of emotions experienced about inter-group inequality.

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Harth, Nicole Syringa: Social, sniffy, or guilty?. Advantaged group's emotional reactions to inter-group inequality. 2008.

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