Role of Collective Guilt in Majority Group Members’ Response to Social Change
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Faced with social change, majority group members feel threatened and resist change with the desire for a stable society. This paper explores the effect of a collective feeling as opposed to individual feelings, collective guilt, and further investigates implications for supporting social change in white men. The results suggest that when white men are asked to think about their privileges, they feel increased negative emotions. Contrary to previous findings, white men feel negative emotions about a stable society. Heart rate measures, being an indication of attentional and emotional engagement, showed considering one’s privileges and subsequently reading about how society is changing in terms of the position of minority groups lead to higher engagement in white men. Mediation analysis has shown that collective guilt is not predicted by privilege listing as previously suggested and it does not mediate the relationship between privilege listing and negative emotions. Rather, it predicts negative emotions and, according to literature, these emotions can indicate the motivation for action.