When aggression seems justified: Judging intergroup conflict from a distance

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This research delineates several factors that may affect how likely observers are to view intergroup aggression as justified. Subjects who favored one side or the other, as well as nominally neutral subjects, rated fictional scenarios depicting an aggressive action by either Israeli or Palestinian armed forces. As hypothesized, rated justification varied with the interaction of an observer's perspective and the relative power of the aggressor and the target, and with the interaction of perspective and the outcome of an action. Also as predicted, power and outcome were found to have no effects on judgments for observers having a neutral perspective. Based on these findings, the extent to which intergroup aggression is perceived as justified is explained in terms of motivational biases theorized to maintain positive social identity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-352
Number of pages8
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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