Displacing Blame over the Ingroup's Harming of a Disadvantaged Group can Fuel Moral Outrage at a Third-Party Scapegoat
Zachary Rothschild et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming
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.
Nod to Kevin Lewis