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When Intergroup Apology is Not Enough: Seeking Help and Reactions to Receiving Help among Members of Low Status Groups

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


Relations between groups are characterized by competition and suspicion. As a consequence, members of low status groups may question the meaning of apologies offered by a high status group, especially under unstable status relations. In two experiments, the present research investigated the role of the intergroup versus interpersonal apology and the potential moderating effect of the stability of intergroup relations on low status group members’ (a) help seeking (Study 1) and (b) responses to receiving help (Study 2) from a high status group. Consistent with our hypotheses, when status relations were unstable rather than stable, following a formal intergroup relative to an interpersonal apology by an Israeli official, Israeli‐Arab students sought less dependency‐oriented and more autonomy‐oriented help from an Israeli‐Jewish study coordinator (Study 1) and Jewish‐Ethiopian newcomers reacted more negatively when they read about an Ethiopian‐Jewish student receiving unsolicited dependency‐oriented help from an Israeli‐Jewish college student (Study 2). Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.