Sugaring the Pill: Assessing Rhetorical Strategies Designed to Minimize Defensive Reactions to Group Criticism

Hornsey, Matthew J., Robson, Erin, Smith, Joanne, Esposo, Sarah and Sutton, Robbie M. (2008) Sugaring the Pill: Assessing Rhetorical Strategies Designed to Minimize Defensive Reactions to Group Criticism. Human Communication Research, 34 1: 70-98. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2958.2007.00314.x

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Author Hornsey, Matthew J.
Robson, Erin
Smith, Joanne
Esposo, Sarah
Sutton, Robbie M.
Title Sugaring the Pill: Assessing Rhetorical Strategies Designed to Minimize Defensive Reactions to Group Criticism
Journal name Human Communication Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0360-3989
Publication date 2008-01-01
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2007.00314.x
Open Access Status
Volume 34
Issue 1
Start page 70
End page 98
Total pages 29
Editor Harwood, Jake
Place of publication United States
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
Language eng
Subject C1
170113 Social and Community Psychology
970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Abstract 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.
Keyword Communication
Communication
COMMUNICATION
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2009 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Psychology Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 20 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 22 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 02 Apr 2009, 03:28:57 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology