Essentialism, a fundamental belief of the fixedness of social group essences, is often associated with negative intergroup outcomes. However, research is yet to explore the role of essentialism in intergroup conflicts, despite their prevalence. To address this gap, we conducted the first direct examination on how essentialism influences conflict management toward out-group members. Moreover, we examined perspective-taking as a positive factor in improving conflict management among essentialist individuals relative to their non-essentialist counterparts in intergroup contexts. Results across three experiments provided little support to the negative effect of essentialism on intergroup (vs. intragroup) conflict management. Yet, we found that perspective-taking promoted the use of problem solving and improved one’s own gain and the dyad’s joint gain among essentialist individuals, but not non-essentialist individuals, in intergroup (vs. intragroup) conflict situations. This research suggests that when coupled with perspective-taking, essentialism can promote constructive conflict resolution in intergroup contexts.
- conflict management
- intergroup conflict