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Majority-groups reactions to threat: A role for dissociatice processes

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Abstract:

The role of threat as a key driver to poor relations between groups is increasingly apparent in the literature (Schmid & Muldoon, in press). In this research we propose that for majority-groups, constructing attacks as group based is particularly difficult as it threatens the group both realistically and symbolically. A threat from minority toward a majority group implies the majority has wielded power unfairly and acted immorally. Available literature clearly articulates the difficulty that dominant group members would have with the positioning of their valued social groups in this way (Wohl & Branscombe, 2006). The invisibility of dominant identities to majority group members (such as whiteness, maleness) means that there can be a further tendency to see the expression of group based grievances as personal attacks on group members. This we suggest can cause greater psychological distress which we propose drives exclusionist attitudes to the out-group. These processes can lock two opposing groups into conflict and serve to maintain conflict between majority and minority groups.

We propose that understanding the role of group status is central to understanding both psychological adaptation to threat and the consequences of threat at a societal level. The literature to date has failed to explore mechanisms that account for the failure of majority-group identity to act to protect against psychological distress in comparison to minority-group identities. One consequence of majority-group threat that has received attention is that of group based guilt which may play a mediating role in the relationship between threat and distress.Furthermore we propose that coping with threat via a dissociative mechanism may operate differently depending on group status. This paper will discuss a series of studies exploring threat utilising majority identities such as Roman Catholic and the Irish national identity as majority groups in contention with relevent minority groups in the Irish context.
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Association:
Name: ISPP 36th Annual Scientific Meeting
URL:
http://ispp.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p668663_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Walsh, Tomas. and Muldoon, Orla. "Majority-groups reactions to threat: A role for dissociatice processes" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISPP 36th Annual Scientific Meeting, Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, IDC–Herzliya, Herzliya, Israel, Jul 04, 2013 <Not Available>. 2014-12-11 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p668663_index.html>

APA Citation:

Walsh, T. F. and Muldoon, O. , 2013-07-04 "Majority-groups reactions to threat: A role for dissociatice processes" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISPP 36th Annual Scientific Meeting, Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, IDC–Herzliya, Herzliya, Israel <Not Available>. 2014-12-11 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p668663_index.html

Publication Type: Paper (prepared oral presentation)
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: The role of threat as a key driver to poor relations between groups is increasingly apparent in the literature (Schmid & Muldoon, in press). In this research we propose that for majority-groups, constructing attacks as group based is particularly difficult as it threatens the group both realistically and symbolically. A threat from minority toward a majority group implies the majority has wielded power unfairly and acted immorally. Available literature clearly articulates the difficulty that dominant group members would have with the positioning of their valued social groups in this way (Wohl & Branscombe, 2006). The invisibility of dominant identities to majority group members (such as whiteness, maleness) means that there can be a further tendency to see the expression of group based grievances as personal attacks on group members. This we suggest can cause greater psychological distress which we propose drives exclusionist attitudes to the out-group. These processes can lock two opposing groups into conflict and serve to maintain conflict between majority and minority groups.

We propose that understanding the role of group status is central to understanding both psychological adaptation to threat and the consequences of threat at a societal level. The literature to date has failed to explore mechanisms that account for the failure of majority-group identity to act to protect against psychological distress in comparison to minority-group identities. One consequence of majority-group threat that has received attention is that of group based guilt which may play a mediating role in the relationship between threat and distress.Furthermore we propose that coping with threat via a dissociative mechanism may operate differently depending on group status. This paper will discuss a series of studies exploring threat utilising majority identities such as Roman Catholic and the Irish national identity as majority groups in contention with relevent minority groups in the Irish context.


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