Displacing blame over the ingroup's harming of a disadvantaged group can fuel moral outrage at a third-party scapegoat

Zachary K. Rothschild, Mark J. Landau, Ludwin E. Molina, Nyla R. Branscombe, Daniel Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Integrating research on intergroup emotions and scapegoating, we propose that moral outrage toward an outgroup perceived to be unjustly harming another outgroup can represent a motivated displacement of blame that reduces collective guilt over ingroup harm-doing. We tested this hypothesis by manipulating the purported cause of working-class Americans' suffering (ingroup cause vs. unknown cause vs. outgroup cause) and whether a potential scapegoat target (i.e., illegal immigrants) was portrayed as a viable or nonviable alternative source of this harm. Supporting hypotheses, participants primed with ingroup culpability for working-class harm (versus other sources) reported increased moral outrage and support for retributive action toward immigrants when immigrants were portrayed as a viable source of that harm, but reported increased collective guilt and support for reparative action when immigrants were portrayed as a nonviable source of that harm. Effects on retributive and reparative action were differentially mediated by moral outrage and collective guilt, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)898-906
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume49
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Collective guilt
  • Immigrants
  • Moral outrage
  • Reparative action
  • Retributive action
  • Scapegoating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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