Safety, Threat, and Stress in Intergroup Relations

A Coalitional Index Model

Pascal Boyer*, Rengin Firat, Florian van Leeuwen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Contact between people from different groups triggers specific individual- and group-level responses, ranging from attitudes and emotions to welfare and health outcomes. Standard social psychological perspectives do not yet provide an integrated, causal model of these phenomena. As an alternative, we describe a coalitional perspective. Human psychology includes evolved cognitive systems designed to garner support from other individuals, organize and maintain alliances, and measure potential support from group members. Relations between alliances are strongly influenced by threat detection mechanisms, which are sensitive to cues that express that one's own group will provide less support or that other groups are dangerous. Repeated perceptions of such threat cues can lead to chronic stress. The model provides a parsimonious explanation for many individual-level effects of intergroup relations and group-level disparities in health and well-being. This perspective suggests new research directions aimed at understanding the psychological processes involved in intergroup relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-450
Number of pages17
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • intergroup relations
  • social cognition
  • evolutionary psychology
  • SOCIAL-DOMINANCE ORIENTATION
  • MALE-WARRIOR HYPOTHESIS
  • CROSS-GROUP FRIENDSHIP
  • OUT-GROUP FACE
  • ETHNIC DENSITY
  • ACCULTURATIVE STRESS
  • INTERRACIAL INTERACTIONS
  • SECURITY MOTIVATION
  • AFRICAN-AMERICANS
  • MENTAL-ILLNESS

Cite this

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title = "Safety, Threat, and Stress in Intergroup Relations: A Coalitional Index Model",
abstract = "Contact between people from different groups triggers specific individual- and group-level responses, ranging from attitudes and emotions to welfare and health outcomes. Standard social psychological perspectives do not yet provide an integrated, causal model of these phenomena. As an alternative, we describe a coalitional perspective. Human psychology includes evolved cognitive systems designed to garner support from other individuals, organize and maintain alliances, and measure potential support from group members. Relations between alliances are strongly influenced by threat detection mechanisms, which are sensitive to cues that express that one's own group will provide less support or that other groups are dangerous. Repeated perceptions of such threat cues can lead to chronic stress. The model provides a parsimonious explanation for many individual-level effects of intergroup relations and group-level disparities in health and well-being. This perspective suggests new research directions aimed at understanding the psychological processes involved in intergroup relations.",
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Safety, Threat, and Stress in Intergroup Relations : A Coalitional Index Model. / Boyer, Pascal; Firat, Rengin; van Leeuwen, Florian.

In: Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol. 10, No. 4, 07.2015, p. 434-450.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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