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Managing Intergroup Emotions: How Intergroup Ideologies and Emotion Regulation Can Stifle Positive Emotions and Intergroup Friendships


In interracial settings, a chief concern among majority group members is whether they appear prejudiced. These concerns often elicit feelings of anxiety and threat, which, ironically, run the risk of being interpreted as prejudice. One of the challenges majority group members face in intergroup interactions is the regulation of these negative emotions. Drawing on Gross's (1998, 2002) emotion regulation framework, I examine individual differences in how people manage negative emotions during intergroup encounters. I investigate whether a particular costly emotion regulation strategy, expressive suppression, is used by majority group members to limit intergroup emotional expressions, and in particular, used by individuals espousing colorblind ideologies that seek to avoid the perception, acknowledgement, and use of race. People endorsing more multicultural ideologies, on the other hand, accept group differences and thus should be less likely to rely on emotional suppression to manage interracial interactions. In Study 1a, I establish intergroup emotion regulation as distinct from global forms of emotion regulation. In Study 1b, I demonstrate the links between ideology and intergroup suppression. In Study 2, I examine of the social consequences of this ideology-suppression link, demonstrating that colorblind ideologies are associated with less positive, and multiculturalism with more positive, intergroup encounters and that these effects are mediated by intergroup suppression. Finally, in Study 3, I test this pathway experimentally, priming participants with multicultural or colorblind ideologies prior to an interracial interaction. Colorblind primes led to more suppression and less positive emotional expression, leading to less positive experiences for interaction partners.

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