We propose that in intergroup conflict threat content is important in understanding the reactions of those who experience threats the most: the powerless. Studies 1 and 2 show that powerless groups experience more threat than powerful groups, resulting in the experience of both more anger and fear. Threat content determines which emotions elicit behavior that adequately deals with the situation. When confronted with a physically threatening outgroup, fear elicits an avoidance reaction in powerless groups (Study 1). When valuable resources are threatened, anger makes powerless group members want to confront the outgroup, at least when they strongly identify with their group (Study 2). Study 3 replicates the finding that threat content determines which emotions are functional in directing behavior.
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