The hunchback heuristic: do people associate anger with low status and calmness with high status?

Weerabangsa, Mass Misha'ari (2021) The hunchback heuristic: do people associate anger with low status and calmness with high status? PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis proposes the existence of a ‘hunchback heuristic’ (HBH): a tendency to associate members of low status social groups with anger and related behaviours, and members of high status social groups with calmness. A series of experiments were conducted to investigate the existence, boundary conditions, effects and interactions of this novel construct.

Chapter 3 presents three experiments aimed at demonstrating the existence of the HBH, using both direct and indirect measures. The results of this series of experiments provide strong evidence of the expression of the HBH on both the explicit and implicit levels. The second experiment (Chapter 3, Study 1) further demonstrates that the HBH occurs at both inter-group and intra-group levels, and the third (Chapter 3, Study 2) highlights the cumulative effect of multiple co-occurring status hierarchies on the HBH's expression.

Chapter 4 reports two experiments which explore the effect of social identity motives and system legitimacy on the HBH, using a novel minimal groups paradigm through which participants are assigned positions in a constructed status hierarchy. The findings of these two experiments (Chapter 4, Studies 1-2) show that social identity motives have only a limited effect on the HBH, which is further constrained by system legitimacy. Both experiments also demonstrate the independence of the HBH from other biases with clear evidence of its expression under minimal conditions.

Chapter 5 describes a single cross-cultural experiment (Chapter 5, Study 1) which examines the possibilities of a) a cultural component to the HBH and b) frustration playing a role in mediating its activation and expression. The results of this study indicate that the HBH is not affected by cultural differences, and also showcases preliminary evidence that frustration may mediate the relationship(s) between status, anger, and calmness in the HBH.

The overall findings of this thesis point to a real and robust HBH effect, such that low status social groups are consistently associated with anger, and high status social groups with calmness, on both explicit and implicit levels of association. The HBH holds true across intergroup and intragroup status hierarchies, as well as across cultures; however, it appears constrained by system legitimacy, following Spears et al.’s (2001) social reality constraint model. The findings also indicate that the HBH may be mediated by frustration.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Owuamalam, Chuma
Stuart-Williams, Steve
Keywords: hunchback heuristic, social identity, status hierarchy, system legitimacy, cultural differences
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculties/Schools: University of Nottingham, Malaysia > Faculty of Science and Engineering — Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 61179
Depositing User: WEERABANGSA, Maas Misha'ari
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2021 04:40
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2023 04:30

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