The symbolic identity implications of inter and intra-group transgressions



The current investigation proposes that symbolic identity concerns underlie retributive desires following a transgression, but that the type of identity concern that primarily drives that retribution varies between intra and intergroup contexts. More specifically, a respondent's social identity may be threatened by calling into question his or her ingroup's status and power in the larger superordinate society, a concern that is particularly relevant in intergroup contexts. Identity may also be threatened by questioning a group's identity-defining values, a concern that is particularly relevant in intragroup contexts. In support of these assertions, the current study shows that desires for retribution following an intergroup terrorist attack were stronger when the attack was framed as attempting to undermine the victimized nation's status/power, but were stronger following an intragroup terrorist attack when framed as attempting to undermine national values. Moreover, these differences only occurred for respondents high in national identification, underscoring that the effects are based on identity processes. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.