- Nanyang Technological University

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Attitudes toward
Natural Catastrophe and its Aftermaths:
The Role of Identity and Intergroup Relations
Ying-yi Hong
Nanyang Business School
Workshop on Socio-Economic Factors of Natural Catastrophe,
Feb.21st, 2013, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Sufferings, Chaos, and Uncertainty
Why did this happen?
Looking for meaning -- a natural
psychological tendency.
Who should be blamed for the
disaster? Unfortunately, sometimes
people blame the victims!
Two examples
1. 2005 Hurricane Katrina – White
Americans blamed the Black victims;
2. 2011 Japanese Earthquake and
Tsunami – Mainland Chinese
showed less empathy than did
Americans.
Identity and intergroup relations
play an important role
Example 1: 2005 Hurricane Katrina
hit New Orleans, USA.
Dach-Gruschow, K & Hong, Y. (2006). The Racial
Divide in Response to the Aftermath of Katrina: A
Boundary Condition for Common Ingroup Identity
Model. Analyses of Social Issues and Public
Policy, 6(1), 125-141.
USA Today/CNN GALLUP polls conducted
shortly after the Katrina disaster revealed a
striking racial divide:
• 27% of Whites felt the residents of New Orleans
deserved most of the blame for the Katrina
disaster, whereas 11% of Blacks felt the same;
• 60% of Blacks felt that the slow response after
Hurricane Katrina was related to the majority of
victims being Black; only 12% of Whites felt the
same;
• 37% of Blacks felt that President George W.
Bush deserved the most blame for the Katrina
disaster versus 15% of Whites felt so.
George Bush gave a speech to rally
all Americans to cope with the
aftermaths of Hurricane Katrina. He
largely avoided any mention of race,
instead promoting the unity of all
Americans behind the common goal
of helping the victims.
However, it did not work!
Why?
George Bush’s strategy is consistent with
Common Ingroup Identity Theory
American identity
(national identity)
White American
(racial identity)
African American
(racial identity)
Our Model: Hegemonic Identity
(American=White)
For the national group = the dominant racial
group, identification with the national group
would become an exclusive identity instead
of inclusive identity; identification with the
national identity would result in more
prejudice toward the minority group than
identification with the racial identity.
American=White
(national identity)
White American
(racial identity)
African American
(racial identity)
Hypothesis testing
Priming White American participants with
National identity (American) vs. racial
identity (White/European American) 
High vs. low outgroup prejudice
This study was conducted about 2 weeks after
Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.
Manipulation -- Identity Priming
American society is facing a lot of problems nowadays.
Domestically, America faces problems of
unemployment, crimes in the inner cities, and
terrorism on the American soil. Internationally,
America faces problems of negotiating with the
Islamic countries and economic commitment to
various nations.
We would be interested in knowing your thoughts about
•
how Americans, such as yourself,
•
how your ethnic group (European-American) differ
from other ethnic groups and how your ethnic group
can contribute uniquely to
•
how your ethnic group (White-American) differ from
other ethnic groups and how your ethnic group can
contribute uniquely to resolve this issue.
(N=144; randomly assigned into the 3 conditions)
Dependent Measures
• To what extent should the victims
deserve blame on the devastation and
sufferings of Katrina.
• To what extent do you think racism
contributes to the slow response in the
aftermath of Katrina.
• Regional authorities blame
• Federal authorities blame
15
activate
National
identity
increase
Hegemonic
National identity
activate
Prejudice
Ethnic
identity
reduce
Implications: Emphazing the national identity may not always work!
Example 2: 2011 Japanese Earthquake
and Tsunami at Fukushima, Japan.
Yang, Y., Liu, X., Fong, Y., & Hong, Y. (3rd R&R).
Unresolved World War II Animosity Dampens
Empathy toward 2011 Japanese Earthquake and
Tsunami. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.
2011 Japanese Earthquke and Tsunami
Blog posting on Bao Du
• “日本的地震是天灾,并不是人祸。我只能说是报
应!当年的侵华战争确实人祸。是可以避免的。
就是是过去式又怎样?那是的确发生过的!死去
的是我们的国人。… 只是民族的仇恨让我们无法
赋予同情。… 虽然我不是在抗战的年代出身…”
• The Japanese earthquake is retribution…the
national hatred do not allow us to empathize or
sympathize. Although I was not born in the
times of WWII, the number of my fellow victims
from the war makes it unforgivable.
Three online surveys in China and US
(Yang, Liu, Fang, & Hong, 3rd R&R)
Theoretical Model (Yang, Liu, Fang, & Hong, 2012)
Historical conflicts
(resolved vs. unresolved)
National
identity
strengthen
Shared historical
representations
Love for one’s nation
(patriotism)
weaken
Global
identity
Intergroup
emotion
Empathy
“As you watch the Japanese disaster unfolding, to
what extent do you have the following feelings?”
“empathy,” “sympathy,” “pain for these people,”
“sad,” “heartbreaking,” and “sorrow”
Chinese
6
American
5.5
5
4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
8 days after
4 weeks after
10 months after
Empathy toward 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami
vs. 2011 Japanese Tsunami
2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami
5
4.5
4
3.5
3
American
Chinese
Why?
6.00
American
Chinese
5.00
4.00
3.00
2.00
1.00
Empathy
Attribution to
Retribution
Attribution to Fate
Trait Sympathy
Free association of Japan
“When you think of Japan as a nation, what comes to your mind
right away?”
Representation of Japanese WWII invasion as
mediator
(a)
Nation
Retribution/Japa
nese invasion in
WWII
(c)  (c)’
(b)
Empathy
(a) b = 1.31**, 1.01**, .28**
(b) b = -.23*, -.22*, -.67*
(c) b = -1.14**, -.97**, -1.0**
(c)’ b = -.84**, -.75**, -.82**
Sobel Z: -2.84**, -2.17*, -1.99*
Theoretical Model (Yang, Liu, Fang, & Hong, 2012)
Historical conflicts
(resolved vs. unresolved)
National
identity
strengthen
Shared historical
representations
Love for one’s nation
(patriotism)
weaken
Global
identity
Intergroup
emotion
Identity and Patriotism
• National identity condition
– “Chinese [American] society is facing a lot of challenges
internationally nowadays… We would be interested in knowing
your thoughts about how people in China [America] can be
united to build a stronger country in order to compete better
with other nations. Start your essay with “We as Chinese
[American]…””
• Global identity condition
– “The world is facing a lot of challenges nowadays. There are
more extreme weather conditions in many places in recent
years... We would be interested in knowing your thoughts
about how people all over the world can be united to build a
better world. Start your essay with “We as global citizens…””
• Patriotism: 12-item patriotism scale (Kosterman &
Feshbach, 1989) “I love my country” and “When I see the
Chinese [American] flag flying, I feel great”.
Empathy toward Japanese disaster
Retribution
Conclusion
• Unresolved historical animosity affects
contemporary intergroup relations.
• Natural catastrophes can aggravate
conflicts between groups.
• These intergroup processes can defy
popular theories or the natural tendency to
empathize with the victims. Policy makers
need to be aware.
Thank You!
The two papers can be downloaded at:
http://www.nanyangbusinessschool.ntu.edu.sg/general/yingyi/index.html
(type “ying-yi hong” on Google)
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