Will outgroup members satisfy my need for autonomy? The role of autonomy threat expectations in outgroup attitudes.

Netta Weinstein, Lukas Wolf, Lisa Legault, Şükrü Atsızelti, Nicole Legate

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Abstract

Given relatively low familiarity with individuals from outgroups, people generally expect the worst, and such expectations about interacting with outgroup members drive negative policy-relevant attitudes. Informed by self-determination theory, we explore the idea that autonomy threat expectations, the anticipation that one will receive less satisfaction of the need for autonomy (i.e., not able to genuinely express oneself or make meaningful choices), would predict negative outgroup attitudes and behaviors. Results from four studies support this idea. Study 1 provides evidence of a correlation between autonomy threat expectations and prejudiced attitudes in samples from four countries, all in relation to a shared outgroup, refugees from Syria. Findings from Studies 2 and 3 provide a real-world test and show in most but not all models that when British citizens have higher autonomy threat expectations of outgroups, they are more likely to vote in favor of Brexit and for a conservative government, with links mediated by prejudice. A final study showed that autonomy threat expectations can be manipulated to differentially impact evaluations of an outgroup.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social and Political Psychology
Publication statusAcceptance date - 9 Apr 2022

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