Motivated emotion and the rally around the flag effect: liberals are motivated to feel collective angst (like conservatives) when faced with existential threat

Roni Porat*, Maya Tamir, Michael J. A Wohl, Tamar Gur, Eran Halperin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

A careful look at societies facing threat reveals a unique phenomenon in which liberals and conservatives react emotionally and attitudinally in a similar manner, rallying around the conservative flag. Previous research suggests that this rally effect is the result of liberals shifting in their attitudes and emotional responses toward the conservative end. Whereas theories of motivated social cognition provide a motivation-based account of cognitive processes (i.e. attitude shift), it remains unclear whether emotional shifts are, in fact, also a motivation-based process. Herein, we propose that under threat, liberals are motivated to feel existential concern about their group’s future vitality (i.e. collective angst) to the same extent as conservatives, because this group-based emotion elicits support for ingroup protective action. Within the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, we tested and found support for this hypothesis both inside (Study 1) and outside (Study 2) the laboratory. We did so using a behavioural index of motivation to experience collective angst. We discuss the implications of our findings for understanding motivated emotion regulation in the context of intergroup threat.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)480-491
Number of pages12
JournalCognition and Emotion
Volume33
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a European Research Commission grant [335607] to the last author, as well as a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Grant [435-2012-1135] to the third and last author. We would also like to thank the Harry and Sylvia Hoffman Leadership and Responsibility Programme as well as the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations for their support of the first author.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a European Research Council Grant [335607] to the last author, as well as a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant [435-2012-1135] to the third and last author.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a European Research Council Grant [335607] to the last author, as well as a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant [435-2012-1135] to the third and last author. This work was supported by a European Research Commission grant [335607] to the last author, as well as a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Grant [435-2012-1135] to the third and last author. We would also like to thank the Harry and Sylvia Hoffman Leadership and Responsibility Programme as well as the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations for their support of the first author.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Liberal shift
  • collective angst
  • emotion
  • motivation

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