It is generally assumed that being accepted by others should have universally positive effects. The present research questions this assumption and shows that acceptance can sometimes arouse aggressive thoughts and feelings when people have a low desire to belong to the accepting group. In Study 1 (N = 61), international students who had low, compared to high, desire for inclusion in a host society behaved more aggressively when informed that the host society accepted them. Study 2 (N = 57) replicated this finding on attributions of aggression to members of the host society. In Study 3 (N = 76) individuals accepted into a workgroup showed more implicit aggressive cognitions when they did not desire inclusion compared to individuals who desired inclusion. The findings reveal a potential limit to the positive effects of acceptance and highlight the importance of considering group members’ motives for inclusion when investigating the effects of group acceptance.

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Group Processes & Intergroup Relations
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Greenaway, K. H., Jetten, J., Ellemers, N., & van Bunderen, L. (2015). The dark side of inclusion: Undesired acceptance increases aggression. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 18(2), 173–189. doi:10.1177/1368430214536063