Different emotional reactions to different groups: A sociofunctional threat-based approach to "prejudice"

Catherine A. Cottrell, Steven Neuberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

824 Scopus citations


The authors suggest that the traditional conception of prejudice - as a general attitude or evaluation - can problematically obscure the rich texturing of emotions that people feel toward different groups. Derived from a sociofunctional approach, the authors predicted that groups believed to pose qualitatively distinct threats to in-group resources or processes would evoke qualitatively distinct and functionally relevant emotional reactions. Participants' reactions to a range of social groups provided a data set unique in the scope of emotional reactions and threat beliefs explored. As predicted, different groups elicited different profiles of emotion and threat reactions, and this diversity was often masked by general measures of prejudice and threat. Moreover, threat and emotion profiles were associated with one another in the manner predicted: Specific classes of threat were linked to specific, functionally relevant emotions, and groups similar in the threat profiles they elicited were also similar in the emotion profiles they elicited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)770-789
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Discrete emotions
  • Evolution
  • Functional approach
  • Intergroup relations
  • Prejudice
  • Threats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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