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How I learned to stop fearing: Ideological differences in choice of reappraisal content

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


--- - |2 Abstract In down‐regulating intergroup fear, an intense emotion common to intractable intergroup conflicts, people may employ various fear‐reducing appraisals. Adopting a motivated reasoning perspective, we posited that the contents of individuals’ ideological beliefs influence the contents they employ to down‐regulate fear, with rightists preferring ingroup‐empowering content and leftists preferring outgroup‐weakening content. In Study 1, rightists (vs. leftists) reported greater use of ingroup‐empowering reappraisal to down‐regulate fear, but no differences emerged in the use of outgroup‐weakening reappraisal. Study 2 manipulated the contents’ perceived instrumentality in reducing fear, to examine this as an alternative mechanism. Perceived instrumentality influenced participants’ behavioral content preferences ahead of a fear induction, but the manipulation did not mitigate the right‐left differences in ingroup‐empowering reappraisal use once participants were confronted with the stimulus, replicating Study 1. Study 3 extended these findings, identifying ideological differences in two additional fear‐reappraisal themes and in the attitudinal outcomes of fear regulation. - European Journal of Social Psychology, EarlyView.