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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Psychology

Year Degree Awarded

2017

Month Degree Awarded

September

First Advisor

Nilanjana Dasgupta

Second Advisor

Bernhard Leidner

Subject Categories

Social Psychology

Abstract

Openness to criticism directed at one’s group can improve the quality of group decisions and alert groups to impending bad decisions. Past research has found that people respond more positively to criticism of their group when it comes from an ingroup versus outgroup member. Four experiments were conducted to examine whether people were less open to criticism of their group from fellow ingroup critics when they felt that their group’s wellbeing was threatened. The results suggest that this preference for criticism from ingroup members is significantly reduced or erased when criticism comes in a context of high threat, which decreases trust, willingness to share the criticism with others, the persuasiveness of ingroup (relative to outgroup) critics’ communication, while also increasing anger. The underlying psychological process behind these negative responses is attributional—greater suspicion of ingroup critics’ motives, which eliminates ingroup critics’ advantage relative to critics from the outside. In Experiment 4, affirming the importance of dissent and free speech as a fundamental value of the ingroup emerged as an effective remedy to increase openness to criticism despite high threat.

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