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Group Threat, Collective Angst, and Ingroup Forgiveness for the War in Iraq

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Abstract

We examine the consequences of threat to the ingroup for emotional reactions to ingroup harm doing. It was hypothesized that reminders of a past threat to the ingroup would induce collective angst, and this emotional reaction would increase forgiveness of the ingroup for its harmful actions toward another group. In Experiment 1, Americans read an article about the war in Iraq that implied Americans would soon experience another attack or one where such implied future threat to the ingroup was absent. When the ingroup's future was threatened, forgiveness for the harm Americans have committed in Iraq was increased, to the extent that collective angst was induced. In Experiment 2, Americans experienced more collective angst and were more willing to forgive their ingroup for their group's present harm doing in Iraq following reminders of either the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, or the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor compared to when the victimization reminder was irrelevant to the ingroup. We discuss why ingroup threat encourages ingroup forgiveness for current harm doing.

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