ERIC Number: EJ808292
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jan
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 57
Sugaring the Pill: Assessing Rhetorical Strategies Designed to Minimize Defensive Reactions to Group Criticism
Hornsey, Matthew J.; Robson, Erin; Smith, Joanne; Esposo, Sarah; Sutton, Robbie M.
Human Communication Research, v34 n1 p70-98 Jan 2008
People are considerably more defensive in the face of group criticism when the criticism comes from an out-group rather than an in-group member (the intergroup sensitivity effect). We tested three strategies that out-group critics can use to reduce this heightened defensiveness. In all studies, Australians received criticism of their country either from another Australian or from a foreigner. In Experiment 1, critics who attached praise to the criticism were liked more and agreed with more than were those who did not. In Experiment 2, out-group critics were liked more and aroused less negativity when they acknowledged that the problems they identified in the target group were shared also by their own in-group. In both experiments, the ameliorative effects of praise and acknowledgment were fully mediated by attributions of constructiveness. Experiment 3 tested the strategy of spotlighting; that is, of putting on the record that you intend your comments to apply to just a portion of the group rather than to the whole group. This strategy--which did not directly address the attributional issues that are presumed to underpin the intergroup sensitivity effect--proved ineffective. Practical and theoretical implications for intergroup communication are discussed.
Descriptors: Communication Strategies, Criticism, Groups, Responses, Defense Mechanisms, Positive Reinforcement, Interpersonal Communication, Foreign Countries
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia