Academy Workshop – September 2023

“How to Cope with Status Threat: Experiments to Increase Majority Tolerance for Diversification”
with Luca Versteegen, PhD Candidate, University of Gothenburg, and SNF Agora Student Fellow

Western societies are diversifying, liberalizing, and striving for social equality. Consequently, some members of historically dominant majorities (e.g., whites, men) feel threatened to lose resources, power, and attention privileges. Previous literature shows that majority members often react to these status threats with backlash, expressed in outgroup animosity and radical right support. In turn, these reactions undermine further progress toward diversity and equality. Therefore, we ask what strategies decrease majority members’ status threat reactions to societal change and increase their tolerance for diversification, liberalization, and equality. Drawing on social psychological theories, we conduct pre-registered online experiments (total N = 3,294) to test two possible strategies. Indicative evidence suggests that priming a shared national identity reduces majority members’ status threat perceptions and increases their tolerance for diversification. Together, we provide a pragmatic approach to reaching the normative ideal of equality by addressing the tangible reality of majority backlash.

Join us in the SNF Agora conference room (N325F) in the Wyman Park Building on the JHU Homewood Campus or via Zoom at

This event is limited to JHU faculty, fellows, students, and staff.