In three studies (two representative nationwide surveys, N = 1,007, N = 682; and one experimental, N = 76) we explored the effects of exposure to hate speech on outgroup prejudice. Following the General Aggression Model, we suggest that frequent and repetitive exposure to hate speech leads to desensitization to this form of verbal violence and subsequently to lower evaluations of the victims and greater distancing, thus increasing outgroup prejudice. In the first survey study, we found that lower sensitivity to hate speech was a positive mediator of the relationship between frequent exposure to hate speech and outgroup prejudice. In the second study, we obtained a crucial confirmation of these effects. After desensitization training individuals were less sensitive to hate speech and more prejudiced toward hate speech victims than their counterparts in the control condition. In the final study, we replicated several previous effects and additionally found that the effects of exposure to hate speech on prejudice were mediated by a lower sensitivity to hate speech, and not by lower sensitivity to social norms. Altogether, our studies are the first to elucidate the effects of exposure to hate speech on outgroup prejudice.
Belief in conspiracy theories about Jews is a prototypical example of how a naïve theory can serve as a universal explanation of "all the bad things happening in society." Such a theory often arises in times of political unrest that tend to breed feelings of uncertainty in politics and a lack of control over politics. As both uncertainty (a sense-making deficit) and lack of control (an agency deficit) can relate to conspiracy-based antisemitism, this research examines which of the two processes plays a pivotal role in the belief in Jewish conspiracy. Specifically, we hypothesize that political uncontrollability, rather than political uncertainty, is a critical factor in triggering conspiracy theories about groups. In Study 1 (N ϭ 812) we found that lack of control, but not uncertainty, in the political domain predicted belief in Jewish conspiracy, and subsequently led to increased discriminatory attitudes toward Jews. The results of longitudinal Study 2 (N ϭ 476) revealed that only political uncontrollability led to an increase in conspiracy-related stereotypes of Jews. In Study 3 (N ϭ 172) we found that experimental induction of political uncontrollability increased belief in Jewish, German, and Russian conspiracy, whereas induction of political uncertainty did not. Finally, Study 4 (N ϭ 370) replicated this pattern in another cultural context with more general measures of uncontrollability and uncertainty. It was lack of personal control, rather than uncertainty, that increased belief in Jewish conspiracy-and indirectly predicted other conspiracy theories. Our findings consistently support the critical role of political uncontrollability, not uncertainty, in triggering a conspiracy theory of Jews.
Exposure to derogatory language about immigrants and minority groups leads to political radicalization and deteriorates intergroup relations. This article addresses the psychological processes responsible for these effects as well as those involved in hate‐speech proliferation in contemporary societies and discusses the factors that constrain its growth. We propose that frequent exposure to hate speech has severe effects on emotional, behavioral, and normative levels. Exposure to hate speech results in empathy being replaced by intergroup contempt as a dominant response to others—it is both a motivator and a consequence of derogatory language. The increased presence of hate speech in one's environment creates a sense of a descriptive norm that allows outgroup derogation. This leads to the erosion of existing antidiscriminatory norms. Finally, through a process of desensitization, hate speech reduces people's ability to recognize the offensive character of such language. Based on empirical evidence from the fields of social psychology and psychology of emotion and aggression, we propose a model that explains the described processes, and we trace the dynamics of this model using an agent‐based modeling approach. We show that the mechanisms potentially effective in constraining hate‐speech proliferation (empathy, norms) are eroded by hate speech itself. We argue that through basic psychological dynamics, societies become more accepting of derogatory language and less accepting of immigrants, as well as religious, ethnic, and sexual minorities.
Two nationwide representative studies (N = 653 adolescents; N = 1007 adults) investigated the psychological correlates of the intention to penalize public expressions of prejudice in the form of support for hate‐speech prohibition. We presented participants with preselected examples of hate speech from the Internet and other mass media and assessed their willingness to support the prohibition of public expressions of such remarks. Both studies found that social dominance orientation and right‐wing authoritarianism are positively correlated with outgroup prejudice, but they have differential effects on hate‐speech prohibition. Social dominance orientation was positively related to the acceptance of hate speech, whereas right‐wing authoritarianism was positively related to hate‐speech prohibition. In discussing this counterintuitive finding, we suggest that right‐wing authoritarians are particularly vigilant toward norm violations—and this makes them more punitive toward counternormative expressions of prejudice, such as hate speech.
Ideological convictions are known to shape attitudes and behavior in various life domains. Based on existing psychological analyses of political ideology, we use an ideological dual-process approach to explain people’s vaccine hesitancy, which distinguishes between authoritarian (right-wing authoritarianism [RWA]) and hierarchical (social dominance orientation [SDO]) facets of conservatism as potential antecedents of vaccination attitudes. In a large international study performed in Germany ( N = 1,210), Poland ( N = 1,209), and the United Kingdom ( N = 1,222), we tested the roles of SDO and RWA in predicting vaccination hesitancy, as well as cross-cultural universality of the pattern of relationships between political ideologies and attitudes toward vaccines. In all three countries, high SDO was associated with higher vaccine hesitancy, whereas high RWA was associated with lower vaccine hesitancy. These findings contribute to our understanding of the distinctive roles that these two facets of right-wing ideology might play in the domain of public health.
In recent decades several conspiracy theories became prominent topics of Polish public debate: the Smoleńsk catastrophe, “gender conspiracy” and “Jewish conspiracy” are some examples of such theories. These conspiracy theories can be viewed as manifestations of a collective conspiracy mentality, a collective mental state in which other groups, nations, or institutions are viewed as ill-intended and willing to conspire against the in-group. This state is instigated by salient historical representations of one’s own group (e.g., nation), viewing the in-group as a victim of others. It is boosted by a special kind of defensive in-group identity—collective narcissism. Finally, it bears negative consequences for inter-group relations.
Prolonged deprivation of personal control induces cognitive, motivational, and affective impairments that can lead to learned helplessness syndrome. Research on cognitive mechanisms involved in responding to uncontrollable events reveals a critical role of lack of contingency between one’s action and outcomes. However, the impact of experienced uncontrollability on individuals’ sense of self-agency has not been explored yet. This research examined how prolonged control deprivation affects implicit sense of agency. We exposed participants to action–outcome noncontingency of varying lengths and measured implicit sense of self-agency manifested in intentional binding. In 2 studies (N = 133 and N = 354, respectively), we found that control deprivation decreased the intentional binding effect, and that the relationship appeared to be monotonic: the longer the control deprivation, the smaller the intentional binding effect. Moreover, in the condition of prolonged control deprivation, no intentional binding was observed at all: Participants evaluated the time elapsing between the action and the effect as if both occurred separately. Our finding suggests that long-term exposure to uncontrollability has detrimental effects on the ability to detect consequences of one’s actions, the basis of implicit self-agency. The implications of our results for the theory of control deprivation and sense of agency are thoroughly discussed.
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