'Terrorist' or 'Mentally Ill': Motivated Biases Rooted in Partisanship Shape Attributions, Social Psychological and Personality Science
We investigated whether motivated reasoning rooted in partisanship affects the attributions individuals make about violent attackers’ underlying motives and group memberships. Study 1 demonstrated that on the day of the Brexit referendum pro–leavers (vs. pro–remainers) attributed an exculpatory (i.e., mental health) versus condemnatory (i.e., terrorism) motive to the killing of a pro-remain politician. Study 2 demonstrated that pro– (vs. anti–) immigration perceivers in Germany ascribed a mental health (vs. terrorism) motive to a suicide attack by a Syrian refugee, predicting lower endorsement of punitiveness against his group (i.e., refugees) as a whole. Study 3 experimentally manipulated target motives, showing that Americans distanced a politically-motivated (vs. mentally ill) violent individual from their ingroup and assigned him harsher punishment— patterns most pronounced amongst high group identifiers.
Masi Noor, Nour Kteily, Birte Siem, Agostino Mazziotta
Noor, Masi, Nour Kteily, Birte Siem, and Agostino Mazziotta. 2018. 'Terrorist' or 'Mentally Ill': Motivated Biases Rooted in Partisanship Shape Attributions. Social Psychological and Personality Science.