How I learned to stop fearing: Ideological differences in choice of reappraisal content

Racheli Cohen, Ruthie Pliskin, Eran Halperin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In down-regulating intergroup fear, an intense emotion common to intractable intergroup conflicts, people may employ various fear-reducing appraisals. Adopting a motivated reasoning perspective, we posited that the contents of individuals’ ideological beliefs influence the contents they employ to down-regulate fear, with rightists preferring ingroup-empowering content and leftists preferring outgroup-weakening content. In Study 1, rightists (vs. leftists) reported greater use of ingroup-empowering reappraisal to down-regulate fear, but no differences emerged in the use of outgroup-weakening reappraisal. Study 2 manipulated the contents’ perceived instrumentality in reducing fear, to examine this as an alternative mechanism. Perceived instrumentality influenced participants’ behavioral content preferences ahead of a fear induction, but the manipulation did not mitigate the right-left differences in ingroup-empowering reappraisal use once participants were confronted with the stimulus, replicating Study 1. Study 3 extended these findings, identifying ideological differences in two additional fear-reappraisal themes and in the attitudinal outcomes of fear regulation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)482-502
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • emotion regulation
  • fear
  • ideology
  • intergroup conflict
  • reappraisal


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