Group-based guilt and shame in the context of intergroup conflict: The role of beliefs and meta-beliefs about group malleability

Noa Weiss-Klayman, Boaz Hameiri, Eran Halperin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Group-based guilt and shame are part of a wide range of moral emotions in intergroup conflicts. These emotions can potentially motivate group members to make compromises in order to promote conflict resolution, and increase support for reparations and apologies following moral transgressions committed by the in-group. Thus, it is important to understand how to induce these emotions and the mechanisms for their effects. In the present paper, we examined the mechanisms underlying group-based guilt and shame in four studies. Across the first three studies, conducted in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we found that group-based guilt was mostly predicted by individuals’ implicit theories about groups (ITG). Specifically, we found that the more participants believed that groups are malleable, the more they experienced group-based guilt. Group-based shame, however, was found to be dependent upon individuals’ perception of other people’s perceptions about the malleability of groups (i.e., meta-ITG), as the perceived damage to one’s in-group image is a major component in experiencing shame. In Study 4, conducted in the context of gender relations, we differentiated between the two components of shame, that is, moral and image shame. As predicted, while group-based guilt and moral shame showed similar patterns of results, meta-ITG had a moderating effect on the association between ITG and group-based image shame. The theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed in relation to promoting intergroup conflict resolution and reconciliation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)213-227
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020

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© 2020 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


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