The Only Thing We Have to Fear? The Relationship between Emotions, Appraisals, and Scapegoating

27 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 12 Aug 2011

See all articles by Eric William Groenendyk

Eric William Groenendyk

University of Memphis - Department of Political Science

Ted Brader

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Nicholas A. Valentino

Independent

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

A number of works demonstrate that fear triggers political information seeking and learning, but what triggers fear? Building on Allport’s classic work, two experiments examine the links between emotions and appraisals of responsibility and legitimacy to determine whether some of this fear-driven behavior should actually be characterized as scapegoating. In Experiment 1, participants experienced a combination of fear and anger in reaction to a threatening article about outsourcing. Those who felt fearful reported believing that the situation was unfair, that someone was responsible for the threat, and that they planned to take action, even when they were told the threat was unintended and merely a natural consequence of global economics. In Experiment 2, participants reported feeling angry and ready to act when told that someone was responsible for causing a potential epidemic. When told that the threat had arisen naturally, participants felt fearful and not angry, yet they still reported sensing something unfair about the situation and planned to take action.

Keywords: Emotions, Appraisal, Blame, Scapegoat

Suggested Citation

Groenendyk, Eric William and Brader, Ted and Valentino, Nicholas A., The Only Thing We Have to Fear? The Relationship between Emotions, Appraisals, and Scapegoating (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1902247

Eric William Groenendyk (Contact Author)

University of Memphis - Department of Political Science ( email )

United States

Ted Brader

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Nicholas A. Valentino

Independent ( email )

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