A careful look at societies facing threat reveals a unique phenomenon in which liberals and conservatives react emotionally and attitudinally in a similar manner, rallying around the conservative flag. Previous research suggests that this rally effect is the result of liberals shifting in their attitudes and emotional responses toward the conservative end. Whereas theories of motivated social cognition provide a motivation-based account of cognitive processes (i.e. attitude shift), it remains unclear whether emotional shifts are, in fact, also a motivation-based process. Herein, we propose that under threat, liberals are motivated to feel existential concern about their group’s future vitality (i.e. collective angst) to the same extent as conservatives, because this group-based emotion elicits support for ingroup protective action. Within the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, we tested and found support for this hypothesis both inside (Study 1) and outside (Study 2) the laboratory. We did so using a behavioural index of motivation to experience collective angst. We discuss the implications of our findings for understanding motivated emotion regulation in the context of intergroup threat.

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Cognition and Emotion
Department of Psychology

Porat, R. (Roni), Tamir, M. (Maya), Wohl, M, Gur, T. (Tamar), & Halperin, E. (Eran). (2018). Motivated emotion and the rally around the flag effect: liberals are motivated to feel collective angst (like conservatives) when faced with existential threat. Cognition and Emotion, 1–12. doi:10.1080/02699931.2018.1460321