Where the Blame Lies: Unpacking Groups Into Their Constituent Subgroups Shifts Judgments of Blame in Intergroup Conflict

Nir Halevy, Ifat Maoz, Preeti Vani, Emily S. Reit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Whom do individuals blame for intergroup conflict? Do people attribute responsibility for intergroup conflict to the in-group or the out-group? Theoretically integrating the literatures on intergroup relations, moral psychology, and judgment and decision-making, we propose that unpacking a group by explicitly describing it in terms of its constituent subgroups increases perceived support for the view that the unpacked group shoulders more of the blame for intergroup conflict. Five preregistered experiments (N = 3,335 adults) found support for this novel hypothesis across three distinct intergroup conflicts: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, current racial tensions between White people and Black people in the United States, and the gender gap in wages in the United States. Our findings (a) highlight the independent roles that entrenched social identities and cognitive, presentation-based processes play in shaping blame judgments, (b) demonstrate that the effect of unpacking groups generalizes across partisans and nonpartisans, and (c) illustrate how constructing packed versus unpacked sets of potential perpetrators can critically shape where the blame lies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)76-89
Number of pages14
JournalPsychological Science
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Keywords

  • intergroup relations
  • judgment and decision-making
  • moral judgment
  • open data
  • open materials
  • partition dependence
  • preregistered
  • support theory

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology

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