Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy
Showing posts with label Social Identity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Social Identity. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

We're good people: Moral conviction as social identity

Ekstrom, P. D. (2022, April 27).


Moral convictions—attitudes that people construe as matters of right and wrong—have unique effects on behavior, from activism to intolerance. Less is known, though, about the psychological underpinnings of moral convictions themselves. I propose that moral convictions are social identities. Consistent with the idea that moral convictions are identities, I find in two studies that attitude-level moral conviction predicts (1) attitudes’ self-reported identity centrality and (2) reaction time to attitude-related stimuli in a me/not me task. Consistent with the idea that moral convictions are social identities, I find evidence that participants used their moral convictions to perceive, categorize, and remember information about other individuals’ positions on political issues, and that they did so more strongly when their convictions were more identity-central. In short, the identities that participants’ moral convictions defined were also meaningful social categories, providing a basis to distinguish “us” from “them.” However, I also find that non-moral attitudes can serve as meaningful social categories. Although moral convictions were more identity-central than non-moral attitudes, moral and non-moral attitudes may both define social identities that are more or less salient in certain situations. Regardless, social identity may help explain intolerance for moral disagreement, and identity-based interventions may help reduce that intolerance.

Here is my summary:

Main Hypothesis:
  • Moral convictions (beliefs about right and wrong) are seen as fundamental and universally true, distinct from other attitudes.
  • The research proposes that they shape how people view themselves and others, acting as social identities.
Key Points:
  • Moral convictions define group belonging: People use them to categorize themselves and others as "good" or "bad," similar to how we might use group affiliations like race or religion.
  • They influence our relationships: We tend to be more accepting and trusting of those who share our moral convictions.
  • They can lead to conflict: When morals clash, it can create animosity and division between groups with different convictions.
  • The research cites studies showing how people judge others based on their moral stances, similar to how they judge based on group membership.
  • It also shows how moral convictions predict behavior like activism and intolerance towards opposing views.
  • Understanding how moral convictions function as social identities can help explain conflict, prejudice, and social movements.
  • It may also offer insights into promoting understanding and cooperation between groups with differing moral beliefs.

This research suggests that moral convictions are more than just strong opinions; they act as powerful social identities shaping how we see ourselves and interact with others. Understanding this dynamic can offer valuable insights into social behavior and potential avenues for promoting tolerance and cooperation.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

How social identity tunes moral cognition

Van Bavel, J. J., Packer, D.,  et al.
PsyArXiv.com (2022, November 18). 


In this chapter, we move beyond the treatment of intuition and reason as competing systems and outline how social contexts, and especially social identities, allow people to flexibly “tune” their cognitive reactions to moral contexts—a process we refer to as ‘moral tuning’. Collective identities—identities based on shared group memberships—significantly influence judgments and decisions of many kinds, including in the moral domain. We explain why social identities influence all aspects of moral cognition, including processes traditionally classified as intuition and reasoning. We then explain how social identities tune preferences and goals, expectations, and what outcomes care about. Finally, we propose directions for future research in moral psychology.

Social Identities Tune Preferences and Goals

Morally-relevant situations often involve conflicts between choices about which the interests of different parties are in tension. Moral transgressions typically involve an agent putting their own desires ahead of the interests, needs, or rights of others, thus causing them harm (e.g., Gray et al., 2012), whereas acts worthy of moral praise usually involve an agent sacrificing self-interest for the sake of someone else’s or the greater good. Value-computation frameworks of cooperation model how much people weigh the interests of different parties (e.g., their own versus others’) in terms of social preferences (see Van Bavel et al., 2022). Social preference parameters can, for example, capture individual differences in how much people prioritize their own outcomes over others’ (e.g., pro-selfs versus pro-socials as indexed by social value orientation; Balliet et al., 2009). These preferences, along with social norms, inform the computations that underlie decisions to engage in selfish or pro-social behavior (Hackel, Wills &Van Bavel, 2020).

We argue that social identity also influences social preferences, such that people tend to care more about outcomes incurred by in-group than out-group members (Tajfel & Turner, 1979;Van Bavel & Packer, 2021). For instance, highly identified group members appear to experience vicarious reward when they observe in-group (but not out-group) members experiencing positiveoutcomes, as indexed by activity in ventral striatum, a brain region implicated in hedonic reward (Hackel et al., 2017). Intergroup competition may exacerbate differences in concern for in-group versus out-group targets, causing people to feel empathy when in-group targets experience negative outcomes, but schadenfreude (pleasure in others’ pain) when out-group members experience these same events (Cikara et al., 2014). Shared social identities can also lead people to put collective interests ahead of their own individual interests in social dilemmas. For instance, making collective identities salient causes selfish individuals to contribute more to theirgroup than when these same people were reminded of their individual self (De Cremer & Van Vugt, 1999). This shift in behavior was not necessarily because they were less selfish, but rather because their sense of self had shifted from the individual to the collective level.



For centuries, philosophers and scientists have debated the role of emotional intuition and reason in moral judgment. Thanks to theoretical and methodological developments over the past few decades, we believe it is time to move beyond these debates. We argue that social identity can tune the intuitions and reasoning processes that underlie moral cognition (Van Bavel et al., 2015). Extensive research has found that social identities have a significant influence on social and moral judgment and decision-making (Oakes et al., 1994; Van Bavel & Packer, 2021). This approach offers an important complement to other theories of moral psychology and suggests a powerful way to shift moral judgments and decisions—by changing identities and norms, rather than hearts and minds.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Why are people antiscience, and what can we do about it?

Phillipp-Muller, A, Lee, W.S., & Petty, R. E.
PNAS (2022). 
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2120755119.


From vaccination refusal to climate change denial, antiscience views are threatening humanity. When different individuals are provided with the same piece of scientific evidence, why do some accept whereas others dismiss it? Building on various emerging data and models that have explored the psychology of being antiscience, we specify four core bases of key principles driving antiscience attitudes. These principles are grounded in decades of research on attitudes, persuasion, social influence, social identity, and information processing. They apply across diverse domains of antiscience phenomena. Specifically, antiscience attitudes are more likely to emerge when a scientific message comes from sources perceived as lacking credibility; when the recipients embrace the social membership or identity of groups with antiscience attitudes; when the scientific message itself contradicts what recipients consider true, favorable, valuable, or moral; or when there is a mismatch between the delivery of the scientific message and the epistemic style of the recipient. Politics triggers or amplifies many principles across all four bases, making it a particularly potent force in antiscience attitudes. Guided by the key principles, we describe evidence-based counteractive strategies for increasing public acceptance of science.

Concluding Remarks

By offering an inclusive framework of key principles underlying antiscience attitudes, we aim to advance theory and research on several fronts: Our framework highlights basic principles applicable to antiscience phenomena across multiple domains of science. It predicts situational and personal variables (e.g., moralization, attitude strength, and need for closure) that amplify people’s likelihood and intensity of being antiscience. It unpacks why politics is such a potent force with multiple aspects of influence on antiscience attitudes. And it suggests a range of counteractive strategies that target each of the four bases. Beyond explaining, predicting, and addressing antiscience views, our framework raises unresolved questions for future research.

With the prevalence of antiscience attitudes, scientists and science communicators face strong headwinds in gaining and sustaining public trust and in conveying scientific information in ways that will be accepted and integrated into public understanding. It is a multifaceted problem that ranges from erosions in the credibility of scientists to conflicts with the identities, beliefs, attitudes, values, morals, and epistemic styles of different portions of the population, exacerbated by the toxic ecosystem of the politics of our time. Scientific information can be difficult to swallow, and many individuals would sooner reject the evidence than accept information that suggests they might have been wrong. This inclination is wholly understandable, and scientists should be poised to empathize. After all, we are in the business of being proven wrong, but that must not stop us from helping people get things right.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Social identity switching: How effective is it?

A. K. Zinn, A. Lavrica, M. Levine, & M. Koschate
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume 101, July 2022, 104309


Psychological theories posit that we frequently switch social identities, yet little is known about the effectiveness of such switches. Our research aims to address this gap in knowledge by determining whether – and at what level of integration into the self-concept – a social identity switch impairs the activation of the currently active identity (“identity activation cost”). Based on the task-switching paradigm used to investigate task-set control, we prompted social identity switches and measured identity salience in a laboratory study using sequences of identity-related Implicit Association Tests (IATs). Pilot 1 (N = 24) and Study 1 (N = 64) used within-subjects designs with participants completing several social identity switches. The IAT congruency effect was no less robust after identity switches compared to identity repetitions, suggesting that social identity switches were highly effective. Study 2 (N = 48) addressed potential differences for switches between identities at different levels of integration into the self. We investigated whether switches between established identities are more effective than switches from a novel to an established identity. While response times showed the predicted trend towards a smaller IAT congruency effect after switching from a novel identity, we found a trend towards the opposite pattern for error rates. The registered study (N = 144) assessed these conflicting results with sufficient power and found no significant difference in the effectiveness of switching from novel as compared to established identities. An effect of cross-categorisation in the registered study was likely due to the requirement to learn individual stimuli.

General discussion

The main aim of the current investigation was to determine the effectiveness of social identity switching. We assessed whether social identity switches lead to identity activation costs (impaired activation of the next identity) and whether social identity switches are less effective for novel than for well-established identities. The absence of an identity activation costs in our results indicates that identity switching is effective. This has important theoretical implications by lending empirical support to self-categorisation theory that states that social identity switches are “inherently variable, fluid, and context dependent” (Turner et al., 1994, p. 454).

To our knowledge, our investigation is the first approach that has employed key aspects of the task switching paradigm to learn about the process of social identity switching. The potential cost of an identity switch also has important practical implications. Like task switches, social identity switches are ubiquitous. Technological developments over the last decades have resulted in different social identities being only “a click away” from becoming salient. We can interact with (and receive) information about different social identities on a permanent basis, wherever we are - by scrolling through social media, reading news on our smartphone, receiving emails and instant messages, often in rapid succession. The literature on task switch costs has changed the way we view “multi-tasking” by providing a better understanding of its impact on task performance and task selection. Similarly, our research has important practical implications for how well people can deal with frequent and rapid social identity switches.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Social identity shapes antecedents and functional outcomes of moral emotion expression in online networks

Brady, W. J., & Van Bavel, J. J. 
(2021, April 2). 


As social interactions increasingly occur through social media platforms, intergroup affective phenomena such as “outrage firestorms” and “cancel culture” have emerged with notable consequences for society. In this research, we examine how social identity shapes the antecedents and functional outcomes of moral emotion expression online. Across four pre-registered experiments (N = 1,712), we find robust evidence that the inclusion of moral-emotional expressions in political messages has a causal influence on intentions to share the messages on social media. We find that individual differences in the strength of partisan identification is a consistent predictor of sharing messages with moral-emotional expressions, but little evidence that brief manipulations of identity salience increased sharing. Negative moral emotion expression in social media messages also causes the message author to be perceived as more strongly identified among their partisan ingroup, but less open-minded and less worthy of conversation to outgroup members. These experiments highlight the role of social identity in affective phenomena in the digital age, and showcase how moral emotion expressions in online networks can serve ingroup reputation functions while at the same time hinder discourse between political groups.


In the context of contentious political conversations online, moral-emotional language causes political partisans to share the message more often, and that this effect was strongest in strong group identifiers. Expressing negative moral-emotional language in social media messages makes the message author appear more strongly identified with their group, but also makes outgroup members think the author is less open-minded and less worth of conversation. This work sheds light on antecedents and functional outcomes of moral-emotion expression in the digital age, which is becoming increasingly important to study as intergroup affective phenomena such as viral outrage and affective polarization are reaching historic levels.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Deconstructing Moral Character Judgments

Hartman, R., Blakey, W., & Gray, K.
Current Opinions in Psychology


People often make judgments of others' moral character-an inferred moral essence that presumably predicts moral behavior. We first define moral character and explore why people make character judgments before outlining three key elements that drive character judgments: behavior (good vs. bad, norm violations, and deliberation), mind (intentions, explanations, capacities), and identity (appearance, social groups, and warmth). We also provide a taxonomy of moral character that goes beyond simply good vs. evil. Drawing from the Theory of Dyadic Morality, we outline a two-dimensional triangular space of character judgments (valence and strength/agency), with three key corners-heroes, villains, and victims. Varieties of perceived moral character include saints and demons, strivers/sinners and opportunists, the non-moral, virtuous and culpable victims, and pure victims.


It seems obvious that people make summary judgments of others’ moral character, but less obvious is how exactly that make those judgments. We suggest that people rely upon behavior, identity, and perceived mind when inferring the moral essence of others. We acknowledge that this list is certainly incomplete and will be expanded with future research. One key area of expansion explored here is the importance of perceived strength/agency in character judgments, which helps provide a taxonomy of character types. Whatever the exact varieties and drivers of moral character judgments, these judgments are clearly an important foundation of social life.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The psychology and neuroscience of partisanship

Harris, E. A., Pärnamets, et al.


Why have citizens become increasingly polarized? The answer is that there is increasing identification with political parties —a process known as partisanship (Mason, 2018). This chapter will focus on the role that social identity plays in contemporary politics (Greene, 2002). These party identities influence political preferences, such that partisans are more likely to agree with policies that were endorsed by their political party, regardless of the policy content, and, in some cases, their own ideological beliefs (Cohen, 2003; Samuels & Zucco Jr, 2014). There are many social and structural factors that are related to partisanship, including polarization (Lupu, 2015), intergroup threat (e.g., Craig & Richeson, 2014), and media exposure (Tucker et al., 2018; Barberá, 2015). Our chapter will focus on the psychology and neuroscience of partisanship within these broader socio-political contexts. This will help reveal the roots of partisanship across political contexts.


A burgeoning literature suggests that partisanship is a form of social identity with interesting and wide-reaching implications for our brains and behavior. In some ways, the effects of partisanship mirror those of other forms of group identity, both behaviorally and in the brain. However, partisanship also has interesting biological antecedents and effects in political domains such as belief in fake news and conspiracy theories, as well as voting behavior. As political polarization rises in many nations across the world, partisanship will become an increasingly divisive and influential form of social identity in those countries, thus highlighting the urgency to understand its psychological and neural underpinnings.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Why Do Social Identities Matter?

Linda Martín Alcoff
Originally published

Here is an excerpt:

What has come to be known as identity politics gives a negative answer to these questions. If social identities continue to structure social interactions in debilitating ways, progress on this front requires showing varied identities in leadership, among other things, so that prejudices can be reformed. But the use of identities in this way can of course be manipulated. Certain experiences and interests might be implied when in reality there are no good grounds for either. For example, when President Donald Trump chose Ben Carson, an African American, to head up the federal department overseeing low-income, public housing, it appeared to be a choice of someone with an inside experience who would know first-hand the effects of government policies. Carson was not a housing expert, nor did he have any experience in housing administration, but his identity seemed like it might be helpful. When the appointment was announced, many applauded it, assuming that Carson must have lived in public housing, and neglected to investigate any further. Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee claimed that Carson was the first Housing and Urban Development Secretary to have lived in public housing, and called Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi a racist for criticizing Carson’s credentials. Carson’s appointment helped to make President Trump appear to be making appointments with an eye toward an insider’s perspective, unless one checked the subsequent news outlets that explained Carson’s actual background. In fact, Carson never lived in public housing. As a neurosurgeon, it is far from clear what in Carson’s background prepared him for a role leading the federal housing department other than the superficial feature of his racial background.

Clearly, social identities are not always misleading in this way, but they can be purposefully used to misdirect. They can also be used to manufacture or heighten conflict. Allowing housing discrimination to continue to flourish has created significant differences in real estate values across neighbourhoods with different ethnic and racial constitutions, causing the most substantial part of the differences in wealth between groups. These differences, and the related differences of interest that result, are not a natural outcome of racial differences, but the product of real estate policies and practices that segregated neighbourhoods and orchestrated economic disparities that would cross multiple generations. It is important to understand the conflicts of interest that result from such differences as produced by political policy, rather than being reflective of natural or pre-political conflicts. While our shared identities can signal true commonalities, we need to ask: what is the true source of these commonalities?

The info is here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Collective narcissism predicts the belief and dissemination of conspiracy theories during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sternisko, A., Cichocka, A., Cislak, A.,
& Van Bavel, J. J. (2020, May 21).


While COVID-19 was quietly spreading across the globe, conspiracy theories were finding loud voices on the internet. What contributes to the spread of these theories? In two national surveys (NTotal = 950) conducted in the United States and the United Kingdom, we identified national narcissism – a belief in the greatness of one’s nation that others do not appreciate – as a risk factor for the spread of conspiracy theories during the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that national narcissism was strongly associated with the proneness to believe and disseminate conspiracy theories related to COVID-19, accounting for up to 22% of the variance. Further, we found preliminary evidence that belief in COVID-19 conspiracy theories and national narcissism was linked to health-related behaviors and attitudes towards public policies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Our study expands previous work by illustrating the importance of identity processes in the spread of conspiracy theories during pandemics.


Ultimately, we hope that our studies are not only relevant for researchers but also for practitioners.Yet, little is known about how to increase or decrease the link between collective narcissism and conspiracy theories. Therefore, we urge future research to examine if focusing on the protection of the national image influences the spread of COVID-19 conspiracy theories, and the implications of these associations for public-health communication. For instance, underscoring that the national in-group is in some way disadvantaged in fighting the pandemic might increase the need to assert the image of the group and further fuel conspiracy theories.  Conversely, public-health messages might benefit from stressing that the adherence to health guidelines and policies also helps protect the nation’s image. Exploring such and other interventions could help limit the current ‘infodemic'.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The MAD Model of Moral Contagion: The role of motivation, attention and design in the spread of moralized content online

Brady WJ, Crockett MJ, Van Bavel JJ.
Perspect Psychol Sci. 2020;1745691620917336.


With over 3 billion users, online social networks represent an important venue for moral and political discourse and have been used to organize political revolutions, influence elections, and raise awareness of social issues. These examples rely on a common process in order to be effective: the ability to engage users and spread moralized content through online networks. Here, we review evidence that expressions of moral emotion play an important role in the spread of moralized content (a phenomenon we call ‘moral contagion’). Next, we propose a psychological model to explain moral contagion. The ‘MAD’ model of moral contagion argues that people have group identity-based motivations to share moral-emotional content; that such content is especially likely to capture our attention; and that the design of social media platforms amplifies our natural motivational and cognitive tendencies to spread such content. We review each component of the model (as well as interactions between components) and raise several novel, testable hypotheses that can spark progress on the scientific investigation of civic engagement and activism, political polarization, propaganda and disinformation, and other moralized behaviors in the digital age.

A copy of the research can be found here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Concealment of nonreligious identity: Exploring social identity threat among atheists and other nonreligious individuals

Mackey, C. D., Silver, and others
(2020). Group Processes & Intergroup Relations.


Negative attitudes toward the nonreligious persist in America. This may compel some nonreligious individuals to conceal their identity to manage feelings of social identity threat. In one correlational study and one experiment, we found evidence of social identity threat and concealment behavior among nonreligious Americans. Our first study showed that Southern nonreligious individuals reported higher levels of stigma consciousness and self-reported concealment of nonreligious identity, which in turn predicted lower likelihood of self-identifying as “atheist” in public settings than in private settings. Our second study successfully manipulated feelings of social identity threat by showing that atheists who read an article about negative stereotypes of their group subsequently exhibited higher concealment scores than did atheists who read one of two control articles. Implications for how nonreligious individuals negotiate social identity threat and future directions for nonreligion research are discussed.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Ethical Algorithms: Promise, Pitfalls and a Path Forward

Image result for ethical algorithmJay Van Bavel, Tessa West, Enrico Bertini, and Julia Stoyanovich
PsyArXiv Preprints
Originally posted October 21, 2019


Fairness in machine-assisted decision making is critical to consider, since a lack of fairness can harm individuals or groups, erode trust in institutions and systems, and reinforce structural discrimination. To avoid making ethical mistakes, or amplifying them, it is important to ensure that the algorithms we develop are fair and promote trust. We argue that the marriage of techniques from behavioral science and computer science is essential to develop algorithms that make ethical decisions and ensure the welfare of society. Specifically, we focus on the role of procedural justice, moral cognition, and social identity in promoting trust in algorithms and offer a road map for future research on the topic.


The increasing role of machine-learning and algorithms in decision making has revolutionized areas ranging from the media to medicine to education to industry. As the recent One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (Stone et al., 2016) reported: “AI technologies already pervade our lives. As they become a central force in society, the field is shifting from simply building systems that are intelligent to building intelligent systems that are human-aware and trustworthy.” Therefore, the effective development and widespread adoption of algorithms will hinge not only on the sophistication of engineers and computer scientists, but also on the expertise of behavioural scientists.

These algorithms hold enormous promise for solving complex problems, increasing efficiency, reducing bias, and even making decision-making transparent. However, the last few decades of behavioral science have established that humans hold a number of biases and shortcomings that impact virtually every sphere of human life (Banaji& Greenwald, 2013) and discrimination can become entrenched, amplified, or even obscured when decisions are implemented by algorithms (Kleinberg, Ludwig, Mullainathan, & Sunstein, 2018). While there has been a growing awareness that programmers and organizations should pay greater attention to discrimination and other ethical considerations (Dignum, 2018), very little behavioral research has directly examined these issues.  In  this  paper,  we  describe  how  behavioural  science  will  play  a  critical  role  in  the development  of  ethical  algorithms  and  outline  a  roadmap  for behavioural  scientists  and computer scientists to ensure that these algorithms are as ethical as possible.

The paper is here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Social Identity Approach to Engaging Christians in the Issue of Climate Change

Goldberg, M. H., Gustafson, A., Ballew, M. T.,
Rosenthal, S. A., & Leiserowitz, A.
(2019). Science Communication, 
41(4), 442–463.


Using two nationally representative surveys (total N = 2,544) and two experiments (total N = 1,620), we investigate a social identity approach to engaging Christians in the issue of climate change. Results show Christian Americans say “protecting God’s creation” is a top reason for wanting to reduce global warming. An exploratory experiment and a preregistered replication tested a “stewardship frame” message with Christian Americans and found significant increases in pro-environmental and climate change beliefs, which were explained by increases in viewing environmental protection as a moral and religious issue, and perceptions that other Christians care about environmental protection.

From the Discussion:

Two studies using large diverse samples demonstrate that a social identity approach to engaging Christians in the issue of climate change is a promising strategy. In Study 1, in a combined sample of two nationally representative waves of survey data, we found that “protect God’s creation” is one of the most important motivations Christians report for wanting to mitigate global warming. This is important because it indicates that many Americans, and especially Christians, are willing to view climate change through a religious lens, and that messages that frame climate change as a religious issue could encourage greater engagement in the issue among this population.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Leader's group-norm violations elicit intentions to leave the group – If the group-norm is not affirmed

Lara Ditrich, AdrianLüders, Eva Jonas, & Kai Sassenberg
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Available online 2 April 2019


Group members, even central ones like group leaders, do not always adhere to their group's norms and show norm-violating behavior instead. Observers of this kind of behavior have been shown to react negatively in such situations, and in extreme cases, may even leave their group. The current work set out to test how this reaction might be prevented. We assumed that group-norm affirmations can buffer leaving intentions in response to group-norm violations and tested three potential mechanisms underlying the buffering effect of group-norm affirmations. To this end, we conducted three experiments in which we manipulated group-norm violations and group-norm affirmations. In Study 1, we found group-norm affirmations to buffer leaving intentions after group-norm violations. However, we did not find support for the assumption that group-norm affirmations change how a behavior is evaluated or preserve group members' identification with their group. Thus, neither of these variables can explain the buffering effect of group-norm affirmations. Studies 2 & 3 revealed that group-norm affirmations instead reduce perceived effectiveness of the norm-violator, which in turn predicted lower leaving intentions. The present findings will be discussed based on previous research investigating the consequences of norm violations.

The research is here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Why Partisanship Is Such a Worthy Foe of Objective Truth

Charlotte Hu
Discover Magazine
Originally published February 20, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

Take, for example, an experiment that demonstrated party affiliation affected people’s perception of a protest video. When participants felt the video depicted liberally minded protesters, Republicans were more in favor of police intervention than Democrats. The opposite emerged when participants thought the video showed a conservative protest. The visual information was identical, but people drew vastly different conclusions that were shaded by their political group affiliation.

“People are more likely to behave in and experience emotions in ways that are congruent with the activated social identity,” says Bavel. In other words, people will go along with the group, even if the ideas oppose their own ideologies—belonging may have more value than facts.

The situation is extenuated by social media, which creates echo chambers on both the left and the right. In these concentric social networks, the same news articles are circulated, validating the beliefs of the group and strengthening their identity association with the group.

The article is here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Perceiving the World Through Group-Colored Glasses: A Perceptual Model of Intergroup Relations

Y. Jenny Xiao, Géraldine Coppin, and Jay J. Van Bavel
Psychological Inquiry Vol. 27 , Iss. 4, 2016


Extensive research has investigated societal and behavioral consequences of social group affiliation and identification but has been relatively silent on the role of perception in intergroup relations. We propose the perceptual model of intergroup relations to conceptualize how intergroup relations are grounded in perception. We review the growing literature on how intergroup dynamics shape perception across different sensory modalities and argue that these perceptual processes mediate intergroup relations. The model provides a starting point for social psychologists to study perception as a function of social group dynamics and for perception researchers to consider social influences. We highlight several gaps in the literature and outline areas for future research. Uncovering the role of perception in intergroup relations offers novel insights into the construction of shared reality and may help devise new and unique interventions targeted at the perceptual level.

The article is here.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Relaxing Moral Reasoning to Win: How Organizational Identification Relates to Unethical Pro-Organizational Behavior.

Mo Chen, Chao C. Chen, and Oliver J. Sheldon
Journal of Applied Psychology, Apr 21 , 2016


Drawing on social identity theory and social–cognitive theory, we hypothesize that organizational identification predicts unethical pro-organizational behavior (UPB) through the mediation of moral disengagement. We further propose that competitive interorganizational relations enhance the hypothesized relationships. Three studies conducted in China and the United States using both survey and vignette methodologies provided convergent support for our model. Study 1 revealed that higher organizational identifiers engaged in more UPB, and that this effect was mediated by moral disengagement. Study 2 found that organizational identification once again predicted UPB through the mediation of moral disengagement, and that the mediation relationship was stronger when employees perceived a higher level of industry competition. Finally, Study 3 replicated the above findings using a vignette experiment to provide stronger evidence of causality. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

An excerpt from the Managerial Implications section:

"In addition to these theoretical contributions, it is also worth briefly touching upon some implications of the present research for managerial practice. Unethical behaviors have proven costly for organizations (Cialdini et al., 2004), especially those behaviors conducted in the name of the organization, which are more likely to undermine stakeholders' organizational trust or even cause the collapse of an organization. In view of the dark side of organizational identification, managers should be aware of blind allegiance and loyalty to the organization among their employees and instead emphasize the importance of social responsibility and caring for all stakeholders. The linkage between organizational identification and moral disengagement we document here suggests that loyal organizational members are under greater pressure to relax their moral reasoning to execute their citizenship behavior, especially when stakes are high in a competitive environment. To counterbalance the tendency toward moral disengagement, organizations and managers need to clearly highlight the importance of hyper ethical values in organizational policies and practices and integrate such ethical standards into managerial decision-making. At the same time, organizations should strive to create a culture of social responsibility so as to reduce UPB (May et al., 2015) and reinforce ethical pro-organizational behavior."

The article is here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

“Fury, us”: Anger as a basis for new group self-categories

Andrew G. Livingstone , Lee Shepherd , Russell Spears , Antony S. R. Manstead
Cognition & Emotion


We tested the hypothesis that shared emotions, notably anger, influence the formation of new self-categories. We first measured participants' (N = 89) emotional reactions to a proposal to make university assessment tougher before providing feedback about the reactions of eight other co-present individuals. This feedback always contained information about the other individuals' attitudes to the proposals (four opposed and four not opposed) and in the experimental condition emotion information (of those opposed, two were angry, two were sad). Participants self-categorised more with, and preferred to work with, angry rather than sad targets, but only when participants' own anger was high. These findings support the idea that emotions are a potent determinant of self-categorisation, even in the absence of existing, available self-categories.

The entire article is here.