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Where the Blame Lies: Unpacking Groups Shifts Judgments of Blame in Intergroup Conflict
Whom do individuals blame for intergroup conflict? Do people attribute responsibility for intergroup conflict to the in-group or the out-group? Theoretically integrating the literatures on intergroup relations, moral psychology, and judgment and decision-making, we propose that unpacking a group to its constituent subgroups increases perceived support for the view that the unpacked group shoulders more of the blame for intergroup conflict. Five preregistered experiments (N=3,335) found support for this novel hypothesis across three distinct intergroup conflicts: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, current racial tensions between Whites and Blacks in the U.S., and the gender gap in wages in the U.S. Our findings highlight the independent roles that entrenched social identities and cognitive presentation-based processes play in shaping blame judgments, demonstrate that the effect of unpacking groups generalizes across partisans and nonpartisans, and illustrate how constructing packed versus unpacked sets of potential perpetrators can critically shape where the blame lies.