System Justification and Affective Responses to Terrorism : Evidence from the November 2015 Paris Attacks
US : US : International Society of Political Psychology
Terrorism, Emotions, System justification
A large stream of research has shown that emotional reactions have a powerful impact on political choices and decision‐making processes. Yet little is known about individual‐level differences in experiencing specific emotions in the light of threatening events. In this article, we argue that system justification, or the endorsement and bolstering of existing social and political arrangements, is positively associated with the experience of positive emotions and negatively associated with the experience of negative emotions in the light of threat. We test our hypotheses using a study conducted a few days after the November 13, 2015, Paris terror attacks on a large sample in France. Our results show that system justification was positively associated with experiencing hope in the light of the attacks and negatively associated with experiencing fear and anger. Moreover, the size of these effects exceeded the respective size of other psychological characteristics such as authoritarianism, conservatism, and national attachment. These findings extend research on the palliative function of system justification to the domain of emotional responses to terrorist shocks.