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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2011 Jun;37(6):815-29. doi: 10.1177/0146167211400617. Epub 2011 Mar 14.

Emotional responses to rejection of gestures of intergroup reconciliation.

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Friedrich Schiller University, Department of Social Psychology, Humboldtstr. 26, 07743 Jena, Germany.


Four experiments examine the emotional and attitudinal consequences of victim group rejection of a gesture of reconciliation from a transgressor group. Participants were reminded about an ingroup transgression and were told that their ingroup provided an apology (Studies 1 and 4) or an offer of repair (Studies 2 and 3). The authors varied whether the victim group rejected or accepted these gestures. As predicted, rejection resulted in greater anger and lower levels of satisfaction directed toward the victim group. Victim group response had little systematic effect on anxiety or shame, however. Appraisals of the response as illegitimate mediated the effects of victim group response (Studies 3 and 4). Furthermore, Study 4 showed that the emotional backlash toward victim groups who reject an offer of reconciliation leads to heightened racism and reduced intentions to financially compensate victim groups. Implications for how groups reconcile in the face of historical transgressions are discussed.

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