(Not) Thinking about you: Differences in victims’ and perpetrators’ self-focus after interpersonal and intergroup transgressions

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We tested the hypothesis that, following a transgression, victims and perpetrators differ in their focus of attention. In three studies (total N = 740), we manipulated participants’ social role (victim vs. perpetrator) in a hypothetical scenario (Studies 1 and 2) and in a perceived real conflict (Study 3) in an interpersonal (Studies 1 and 2) and an intergroup (Study 3) context. Results from all studies confirmed that victims show a stronger self-focus than perpetrators. Moreover, results suggest victims’ higher self-focus as a predictor of willingness to reconcile. Participants’ self-focus mediated the effect of social role on reconciliation intentions as a single mediator (Study 2), or in sequence with their motivation to consider the other party's needs (Study 3). Overall, the present research suggests that victims and perpetrators differ in their focus of attention, and that this difference has important theoretical and practical implications for reconciliation between individuals and between groups.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1007-1021
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 08.2019
Externally publishedYes