Threat to the Group’s Image Can Motivate High Identifiers to Take Action Against In-group Transgressions

Eric Shuman*, Dan Johnson, Tamar Saguy, Eran Halperin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


When transgressions are committed by a group, those highly identified with the group are often least likely to recognize the transgressions, feel collective guilt, and engage in action to address them. We hypothesized that especially among high identifiers, demonstrating that in-group transgressions threaten the group’s image can induce normative conflict and thus collective guilt and action. In the first study, we demonstrate that high (vs. low) image threat increases normative conflict among high identifiers. In Study 2, we show that inducing normative conflict through image threat leads to increased collective guilt and collective action among high identifiers. In Study 3, we replicate this effect with the addition of a control condition to demonstrate increased normative conflict and collective guilt relative to both a low threat and baseline conditions. In Study 4, we again replicate these effects with a modified manipulation that more precisely manipulated image threat. Together, these studies indicate that image threat can be an effective motivator for high identifiers to address in-group transgressions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1523-1544
Number of pages22
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.


  • collective action
  • collective guilt
  • group identification
  • image threat
  • normative conflict


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