Agentic and Communal Interaction Goals in Conflictual Intergroup Relations


  • Anna Lisa Aydin
  • Johannes Ullrich
  • Birte Siem
  • Kenneth D. Locke
  • Nurit Shnabel


Members of conflicting groups experience threats to different identity dimensions, resulting in the need to restore the aspect of identity that was threatened. Do these needs translate into specific goals in social interactions? In the present research, we examined the hypotheses that (1) experiencing one’s ingroup as illegitimately disadvantaged or victimized arouses agentic goals (to act and appear assertive and confident) when interacting with the advantaged or victimizing group, while (2) experiencing one’s ingroup as illegitimately advantaged or perpetrating transgressions arouses communal goals (to act and appear warm and trustworthy) when interacting with the disadvantaged or victimized group. Study 1 (N = 391) generally supported both hypotheses across diverse intergroup contexts involving gender, national/ethnic, and consumer identities. Study 2 (N = 122) replicated this pattern in a context of occupational identities. Study 2 further showed that the effect of ingroup role on agentic and communal intergroup goals was not moderated by participants’ general dispositional preferences for agentic and communal goals in interpersonal interactions, thus demonstrating how ingroup role exerts a distinct and robust influence on goals for interactions with other groups. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.