Intergroup Contexts and Psychological Needs

My research program considers how basic psychological needs, such as needs for relatedness, competence, and autonomy, are impacted by intergroup processes (Kachanoff, Wohl, Koestner, & Taylor, in press, CDPS).

One line of this research considers how people’s belief that their social group(s) are collectively autonomous in articulating and expressing their own sociocultural identity within an intergroup context without being unduly controlled by other groups impact their basic need for personal autonomy (Kachanoff, Taylor, Caouette, Khullar, & Wohl, 2019, JPSP).

A. Consequences of Collective Autonomy for Psychological Health

I find that people experience less personal autonomy and less psychological wellbeing when they feel that the collective autonomy of their racial, ethnic, and religious groups has been restricted (Kachanoff et al., JPSP). These effects are robust when using cross-sectional, longitudinal, and intensive experimental laboratory simulation research methods. We have also shown the important psychological consequences of collective autonomy for group members within LGBTQ+ communities (Kachanoff, Cooligan, Caouette, & Wohl, in press, Self and Identity).

B. Consequences of Collective Autonomy for Intergroup Relations

I find that threats to collective autonomy have profound consequences for intergroup relations. Amongst representative samples of Black and White Americans, as well as within simulated laboratory experiments, I show that threats to collective autonomy uniquely predict group members’ desire for power, system challenge, and support and engagement in (sometimes violent) collective action (Kachanoff, Kteily, Khullar, Park, & Taylor, 2020, JPSP).

I also find that collective autonomy support between groups minimizes intergroup conflict and promotes harmonious intergroup relations within challenging intergroup contexts involving intergroup apologies for past transgressions (Kachanoff , Caouette, Wohl, & Taylor, 2017, EJSP) and mass-migration crises (Kachanoff, Kteily, Cohen, & Taylor, invitation to resubmit). My ongoing work is examining how formerly disadvantaged groups respond to having their collective autonomy restricted when they gain control over their social system.