To Feel or Not to Feel When My Group Harms Others? The Regulation of Collective Guilt as Motivated Reasoning

Keren Sharvit, Marco Brambilla, Maxim Babush, Francesco Paolo Colucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Four studies tested the proposition that regulation of collective guilt in the face of harmful ingroup behavior involves motivated reasoning. Cognitive energetics theory suggests that motivated reasoning is a function of goal importance, mental resource availability, and task demands. Accordingly, three studies conducted in the United States and Israel demonstrated that high importance of avoiding collective guilt, represented by group identification (Studies 1 and 3) and conservative ideological orientation (Study 2), is negatively related to collective guilt, but only when mental resources are not depleted by cognitive load. The fourth study, conducted in Italy, demonstrated that when justifications for the ingroup’s harmful behavior are immediately available, the task of regulating collective guilt and shame becomes less demanding and less susceptible to resource depletion. By combining knowledge from the domains of motivated cognition, emotion regulation, and intergroup relations, these cross-cultural studies offer novel insights regarding factors underlying the regulation of collective guilt.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1223-1235
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number9
StatePublished - 4 Sep 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, © 2015 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.


  • collective guilt
  • emotion regulation
  • moral disengagement
  • motivated reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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