Social Identity and Group Emotion: Media Effects and Support for Military Intervention

Seth Bradshaw, Kate Kenski


This study examines how news coverage of terrorist threats affects emotions that then shape support for antiterrorism policies, presidential approval, and attitudes toward Muslims. Using a national sample, news stories were experimentally manipulated to emphasize terrorist threats (high/low) and depictions of U.S. military strength (high/low). Results show that group-based anger—when people thought about themselves as Americans—mediated the relationships between threat coverage and antiterrorism policies, whereas group-based fear did not. On the other hand, group-based fear mediated the relationship between threat coverage and negative attitudes toward Muslims, whereas group-based anger did not. When people thought about themselves as individuals, neither anger nor fear mediated these relationships.


social identity, group emotion, discrete emotions, media effects, experiment

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