Can perspective taking improve intergroup attitudes in conflict contexts? How does a context of conflict shape people's responses to perspective-taking tasks and their ultimate effectiveness? The present study addressed these questions by examining the effect of perspective taking (compared with a perspective giving and a control condition) on intergroup attitudes between Trump and Clinton supporters (N = 537) one month after the 2016 presidential election. Perspective taking had positive effects on some intergroup attitudes: It increased warmth toward the outgroup (thermometer ratings), outgroup tolerance, perceived similarities between groups, and marginally increased positive outgroup evaluation. This study also sheds light on the mechanisms that might reduce the effectiveness of perspective taking in conflict settings by assessing the content and the effects of the induced perspectives in response to perspective-taking task. About half of the induced perspective-taking narratives involved negative views of the other, which were associated with worse intergroup outcomes. In addition, higher perceived intensity of the conflict between Trump and Clinton supporters and more negative emotions about the election outcome predicted more induced negative perspectives as a response to the perspective-taking task. In turn, negative perspectives were associated with more negative intergroup attitudes. To sum up, while perspective taking had an overall positive impact on intergroup attitudes in this conflict setting, its impact seems to be contingent upon the content of induced perspective-taking narratives.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology