The role of lay beliefs about group transgressions in acceptance of responsibility for ingroup harm-doing

Rezarta Bilali, Yeshim Iqbal, Cengiz Erisen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Denial of responsibility by perpetrator groups is the most common response to group-based transgressions. Refusal to acknowledge responsibility has dire consequences for intergroup relations. In this research we assessed whether shifting lay beliefs about group-based transgressions in general influences acceptance of responsibility for a specific ingroup transgression. In two experimental studies we manipulated lay beliefs about group transgressions as reflecting either a group's stable character (i.e., a global defect construal) or a specific characteristic (i.e., a specific defect construal). Specific defect construals (compared to global defect construals) increased acceptance of ingroup responsibility by increasing group malleability beliefs, but reduced acceptance of ingroup responsibility by reducing the ingroup's perceived moral failure. These effects were moderated by ingroup superiority in Study 1, but not Study 2. We draw implications for our understanding of mechanisms of denial of responsibility, identity threat, and coping with this threat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)992-1006
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • group malleability
  • ingroup responsibility
  • ingroup superiority
  • moral failure
  • transgressions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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