Extant research has demonstrated the destructive role that anger plays in the context of intergroup conflict. Among other findings, it has been established that anger elevates public support for aggressive and violent actions towards the outgroup. This finding has been explained by the unique cognitive appraisals, emotional goal, and response tendencies associated with anger, typified by appraised relative strength and high control, motivation to correct perceived wrongdoings, and willingness to engage in risky behavior. In the current work we examine an innovative assumption, according to which the apparent destructive implications of anger are a result of situational range restriction-namely, that anger as a group emotion has been examined almost solely at the escalation stage of conflict. Instead, we propose that the same unique characteristics of anger can bring about constructive political attitudes and support for non-violent policies in the context of systematic efforts to de-escalate a protracted conflict. To test this hypothesis we conducted two studies in which we examined the relationship between anger and the willingness to engage in positive risk-taking and support non-violent policies in the context of political negotiations between adversaries. Results indicate a significant positive relationship, supporting the hypothesis that anger is not an exclusively militant emotion, and its effects are situationally dependent.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was partially funded through the support of a University of Minnesota Graduate Research Partnership Program Fellowship awarded to the first author. We would like to thank Eugene Borgida and Joanne Miller for their helpful comments on earlier drafts; and Jamin Halberstadt for helping improve the final manuscript.
- Group emotions
- Intergroup conflict
- Policy preferences
- Risk taking