The Psychology of Loyalty and its Impact on Harm Perception

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2018

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This dissertation examines how people’s loyalty to their groups influences their perception of harm. Specifically, people who are loyal (vs. not loyal) to their ingroup perceive negative actions by an outgroup against their group as more harmful. Three studies provided support for this hypothesis. Students loyal to their university’s basketball team perceived greater harm from its rival basketball team than those who were not (Studies 1 and 2). The effect held controlling for related group constructs, such as group identification (Studies 1 and 2), and related moral constructs, such as belief in a just world (Study 1). The association between loyalty and harm perception generalized to a country context by showing that Americans more loyal to the United States were more likely to perceive foreign tariffs as harmful (Study 3). Rather than differences in memory recall or general negative perceptions of the outgroup, this effect appeared to be due to loyalists exaggerating the perceived harm inflicted (Studies 2 and 3). Furthermore, as perceptions of harm increased, desire for punitive actions also increased (Study 3).

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Tang, Simone (2018). The Psychology of Loyalty and its Impact on Harm Perception. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/16954.

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