How does intergroup threat affect the shifting function? The moderating role of group identification

Yujie Chen1, Shanshan Quan1, Bing Chen1, Yufang Zhao1
1Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University, and Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality, Ministry of Education, People’s Republic of China
Cite this article:  Chen, Y. , Quan, S. , Chen, B. , & Zhao, Y. (2019). How does intergroup threat affect the shifting function? The moderating role of group identification. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 47, e8130.

Volume 47 Issue 8 | e8130 | Published: August 2019 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.8130

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In this study we examined whether the shifting function can be modulated by intergroup threat, and if so, how this works. We conducted 2 experiments, using a task-switching paradigm, the results of which provide converging evidence that intergroup threat can impair the shifting function. Results showed that participants in the threat condition in each study (Study 1 symbolic threat: n = 29; Study 2 realistic threat: n = 29) experienced greater shifting costs than did those in the control condition (Study 1: n = 29; Study 2: n = 28). Further, group identification moderated the depletion effect in the intergroup threat condition, with participants closer (vs. less close) in group identification showing greater switching costs following the intergroup threat intervention. In sum, these results suggest that intergroup threat could deplete switching ability, and this effect could be influenced by group identification. In future studies researchers should investigate more kinds of intergroup threat than those we used in this study to assess the generalizability of our findings.

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