How perspective-taking helps and hinders group-based guilt as a function of group identification

Sven Zebel*, Bertjan Doosje, Russell Spears

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


In two studies we hypothesized that outgroup perspective-taking promotes group-based guilt among weakly identified perpetrator group members, but hinders it among higher identifiers. In Study 1, native Dutch participants (N = 153) confronted their group's past mistreatment of outgroups, while perspective-taking was manipulated. This manipulation significantly increased guilt among lower identifiers, but decreased guilt among higher identifiers. In addition, guilt predicted positively participants' support for reparation. In Study 2 (N = 217), we replicated this interaction and elaborated on its underlying processes. As predicted, perspective-taking positively predicted feelings of compassion for outgroup members, as well as the perceived responsibility of the ingroup for the harm inflicted. Path analyses indicated the dual role of compassion: it predicted guilt positively among lower identifiers, but negatively among higher identifiers. The double-edged potential of perspective-taking for improving relations between groups that have a history on conflict is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-78
Number of pages18
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Compassion
  • Group identification
  • Group-based guilt
  • Perspective-taking
  • Responsibility
  • n/a OA procedure


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