The central role of group-based hatred as an emotional antecedent of political intolerance: Evidence from Israel

Eran Halperin*, Daphna Canetti-Nisim, Sivan Hirsch-Hoefler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


In recent years, political scientists have shifted the focus of explaining political phenomena from the purely cognitive perspective to an integrated emotion-cognition one. Yet most studies which examine antecedents of political intolerance ignore the potential role played by "gut feelings" or group-based negative emotions in endorsing those attitudes. Moreover, even the few studies that deal with emotions and intolerance concentrate exclusively on the role of groups of emotions (positive vs. negative, dispositional vs. surveillance) or on basic emotions (anger or fear) and ignore the potential influence of more complex discrete emotions like hatred on political intolerance. Hence, the main goal of this study was to create a deeper understanding regarding the role of discrete negative emotions in increasing political intolerance among different groups of individuals in different contexts. In order to do so, the relations between political intolerance and three group-based negative emotions (hatred, anger, and fear) were tested by means of four large-scale nationwide surveys. Within the surveys, various intolerance measurement methods were used in various contexts (wartime vs. no-war/routine periods) and among individuals with different levels of political sophistication. Results, obtained via multiple regression analysis and structural equation modeling, show that: (1) Group-based hatred is the most important antecedent of political intolerance even when controlling for important intolerance inducers such as perceived threat. (2) Other group-based negative emotions like anger or fear influence political intolerance wholly through the mediation of hatred or perceived threat. (3) The role of group-based hatred in inducing political intolerance is more substantial in the face of heightened existential threat and among unsophisticated individuals than among sophisticated ones.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)93-123
Number of pages31
JournalPolitical Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Emotions
  • Group-based hatred
  • Perceived threat
  • Political intolerance
  • Political sophistication


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