Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Faculty of Science
Just as people defend against threats to personal identity, they also defend against threats to social identity. In the context of intergroup transgression, the defensiveness against social identity threat has the effect of undermining collective guilt and its prosocial consequences. However, there may be ways for perpetrator groups to alleviate threat without undermining guilt. Five studies examined whether perpetrator groups are more willing to acknowledge collective guilt once social identity threat has been buffered by ingroup-affirmation. As predicted, Study 1 revealed that men accepted greater collective guilt for the mistreatment of women after affirming their ingroup. Replicating this effect, Study 2 revealed that, following ingroup-affirmation, Canadians accepted greater collective guilt over the mistreatment of Aboriginal children in residential schools. In light of the theoretical distinction between collective guilt and collective shame, Studies 3 and 4 examined the effect of ingroup-affirmation on each emotion. Results revealed that, as with collective guilt, Canadians accepted greater collective shame following ingroup-affirmation. More importantly, ingroup-affirmation moderated the relation of each emotion with compensation. Specifically, when controlling for each other, collective shame predicted compensation only when social identity threat was left unchecked, whereas collective guilt predicted compensation only when social identity threat had been disarmed by ingroup-affirmation. Finally, Study 5 provided direct evidence that the effect of ingroup-affirmation is mediated by defensiveness. Specifically, ingroup-affirmation lowered defensiveness, which in turn freed group members to acknowledge greater collective guilt and greater collective shame. The theoretical and applied implications of these findings are discussed.
Gunn, Gregory Roy, "Acknowledging the Skeletons in Our Closet: Collective Guilt and Ingroup-Affirmation" (2009). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 1077.