Creating a sense of interpersonal similarity of attitudes and values is associated with increased attraction and liking. Applying these findings in an intergroup setting, though, has yielded mixed support. Theorizing from a social identity perspective suggests that highlighting intergroup similarity may lead to increased antipathy to the extent that it is perceived as a threat to one’s unique social identity. To circumvent this process, we examine the influence of emotional similarity, rather than attitudinal or value similarity, with the expectation that the short-term nature of emotions may evoke less threat to one’s social identity. Moreover, given the importance of emotions in intergroup humanization processes, we expected that emotional similarity would be associated with greater conciliatory attitudes due to an increase in humanization of the outgroup. We report results from two studies supporting these predictions. Following exposure to an anger-eliciting news story, Jewish Israeli participants were given information that their own emotional reaction to the story was similar (or not) to an individual member of the outgroup (Study 1: Palestinian citizen of Israel) or the outgroup as a whole (Study 2: Palestinians of the West Bank). As predicted, emotional similarity was associated with increased humanization of the outgroup, and a subsequent increase in one’s willingness to support conciliatory political policies toward the outgroup. We conclude that emotional similarity may be a productive avenue for future intergroup interventions, particularly between groups where differences in attitudes and values are foundational to the intergroup conflict.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the European Research Council Grant awarded to the last author (Grant Number 335607).
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.
- intergroup bias
- intergroup relations
- intractable conflicts