Who wants to be collectively guilty? A causal role for motivation in the regulation of collective guilt

Keren Sharvit, Shimrit Valetzky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two studies tested the role of guilt instrumentality in motivating the regulation of collective guilt up or down by motivated reasoning, and its dependence on mental resources. In Study 1 participants (N = 93) were randomly assigned to learn that guilt is beneficial, detrimental or neither. Consistent with the instrumental approach to emotion regulation, learning that guilt is beneficial led to higher levels of collective guilt following an ingroup transgression compared to the other conditions. In Study 2 (N = 178), we tested the hypothesis that regulation of collective guilt involves motivated reasoning and is cognitively demanding. Consistent with predictions derived from cognitive energetics theory, the effect of guilt instrumentality on collective guilt replicated when mental resources were not constrained, but was not observed under cognitive load. The findings suggest that individuals may be motivated to increase or reduce collective guilt depending at least partly on its instrumentality, and are willing to invest mental resources in such regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-111
Number of pages9
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Cognitive load
  • Collective guilt
  • Emotion regulation
  • Motivated reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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