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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research was funded in part by a European Research Council grant  to E.H.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
- emotion regulation
- intergroup conflict