Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
A collective approach to emotions suggests that, in some cases, members of groups may experience collective guilt when they consider the negative actions performed by other members of their group, even when they were not personally involved themselves. Social identity theory suggests that such group-level reactions are more likely when individuals strongly identify with their group, and less likely when their sense of identity is not linked as strongly to their group membership.
This hypothesis was examined by directly manipulating the salience of individuals' collective identities through priming through an identification manipulation. The identification manipulation primed participants to feel more a part of the collective or more an individual in regards to the ingroup. After being primed, participants were asked to read one of three historical accounts, which chronicled their ingroup's negative past involvement with an outgroup. Participants' empathy levels were also measured. After completing a questionnaire about their feelings of identification, participants were asked a behavior measure, which prompted them to decide whether or not they would like to donate to a cause related to their ingroup's past actions.
A sex effect was identified through this study: men who were primed as individuals felt more a part of the collective than the men primed in the collective condition. Empathy was correlated with guilt levels: the more guilt felt by a participant, the more empathic they self-reported. Those participants who were primed to identify with the collective were the most likely to donate through the behavior measure.
Musser, Laura, "Empathy, group-level guilt and identification : measuring their relationship through past American-Cambodian relations" (2009). Honors Theses. 1275.