At the heart of the research conducted in this lab is a desire to understand the causes and consequences of harmdoing at both the interpersonal (one person transgressing against another) and intergroup level (historical and contemporary harm experienced by members of one group at the hands of another group).
We tend to concentrate on real-world conflict situations and the processes involved in forgiveness and reconciliation. At the intergroup level, the team seeks to establish a better understanding of the routes and mechanisms by which people come to accept responsibility for their own group’s past transgressions against another group. We also examine factors that influence historically victimized group members’ willingness to forgive outgroup members for their group’s transgressions.
A topic of particular interest is how concern about the future vitality of one’s group (collective angst) influences both intragroup and intergroup attitudes and behaviour. We have shown that in some contexts collective angst can facilitate constructive behaviour (donating to ingroup organizations, willingness to compromise with an adversary group). However, in other contexts, collective angst leads to, among other things, ingroup schisms and aggression directed at outgroups. Recently, we have begun to examine prejudice against atheists from an existential psychological perspective. Specifically, among other things, we have found that atheists pose an existential threat to theists, which leads to high levels of distrust and prejudice.
At the interpersonal level, we have focused on the effect time (e.g., subjective temporal distance) has on the forgiveness process, how relationship dynamics influence whether forgiveness and relationship repair is possible, and (more recently) the positive and negative effects of self-forgiveness.
Selected (Recent) Publications
Hornsey, M.J., Wohl, M.J.A., Harris, E.A., Okimoto, T.G., Thai, M., & Wenzel, M. (in press). Embodied remorse: Physical displays of remorse increase positive responses to public apologies, but have negligible effects on forgiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. doi: 10.1037/pspi0000208
Wohl, M.J.A., Tabri, N., Hollingshead, S.J., Dupuis, D.R., & Caouette, J. (2019). Empathetic collective angst predicts perpetrator group members’ support for the empowerment of the victimized group. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. doi: 10.1037/pspi0000176
Sprong, S., Jetten, J., Wang, Z., Peters, K., Mols, F., Verkuyten, M., … Wohl, M.J.A. (2019). “Our country needs a strong leader right now”: Economic inequality enhances the wish for a strong leader. Psychological Science, 30, 1-13. doi: 10.1177/0956797619875472
Tabri, N., Wohl, M. J. A., & Caouette, J. (2017). Will we be harmed, will it be severe, can we protect ourselves? Threat appraisals predict collective angst (and its consequences). European Journal of Social Psychology, 48(1), 72-85. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2303
Hornsey, M. J., Bain, P. G., Blumen, S., Chen, S. X., Gómez, Á., González, R., Guan, Y., Kashima, E., Lebedeva, N., & Wohl, M. J. A. (2017). Conservatives are more reluctant to give and receive apologies than liberals. Social Psychology and Personality Science. doi:10.1177/1948550617691096
Kachanoff, F. J., Caouette, J., Wohl, M. J. A., & Taylor, D. M. (2017). Allowing the victim to draw a line in history: Intergroup apology effectiveness as a function of collective autonomy support. European Journal of Social Psychology. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2260
Dupuis, D., Wohl, M. J. A., Packer, D., & Tabri, N. (2016). To dissent and protect: Stronger collective identification increases willingness to dissent when group norms evoke collective angst. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 19, 694-710. doi:10.1177/1368430216638535
Wohl, M. J. A., Cohen-Chen, S., Halperin, E., Caouette, J., Hayes, N., & Hornsey, M. J. (2015). Belief in the malleability of groups strengthens the tenuous link between a collective apology and intergroup forgiveness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41, 714–725. doi:10.1177/0146167215576721
Wohl, M. J. A., & McLaughlin, K. L. (2014). Self-forgiveness: The good, the bad, and the ugly. Social Psychology and Personality Compass, 8, 422-435. doi:10.1111/spc3.12119