Election results can decrease intergroup threat and through that positively affect intergroup relations

Jenny Roth, Miriam Steinmann, Jack Loughnane, Paula Devine, Orla Muldoon, Catriona Shelly, Wijnand A. P. van Tilburg, Melanie C. Steffens, Claire Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has established that intergroup threat is pivotal to intergroup relations in divided societies. We used the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections in 2022 as a unique chance to investigate how elections can affect feelings of threat and intergroup relations between communities with a history of violent intergroup conflict. We argued that because of their conflicting goals, if Sinn Féin (i.e., a Republican party that promotes a united Ireland) gains more votes than the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP, i.e., a party promoting Northern Ireland’s union with the United Kingdom), would threaten DUP supporters and vice versa. We assessed whether participants supported Sinn Féin or DUP relatively to each other, intergroup threat, and intergroup bias before and after the elections (N = 285). Following an election outcome where Sinn Féin gained more votes than DUP, Sinn Féin supporters showed decreased feelings of threat which in turn decreased their intergroup bias. DUP supporters, the party that received fewer votes, showed no changes in their feelings of threat or intergroup bias. This research highlights how electoral results affect intergroup relations in post conflict societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalPolitical Psychology
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 24 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Political Psychology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Society of Political Psychology.


  • intergroup bias
  • social identity/intergroup threat
  • intergroup conflict
  • electoral outcome/decision
  • northern ireland assembly elections
  • Northern Ireland assembly elections


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