The social identity of another person, in addition to the social identity of self, can be an important factor affecting the types of attribution judgments and emotions that individuals indicate for the other person. In April 2007, the perpetrator of the shooting incident on the Virginia Tech University campus was identified as a person who emigrated to the USA from Korea at a young age. The current study compared non-Korean Americans, Korean Americans, Koreans in the USA, and Koreans in Korea in terms of their attributions and emotions concerning the perpetrator and the shooting incident. Participants were asked to indicate (1) the extent to which they attributed the cause of the incident to either American society or the perpetrator, (2) their emotions (e.g., upset), and (3) the extent to which they categorized the perpetrator as an American, a Korean American, or a Korean. The results indicated that non-Korean Americans were most likely to attribute the cause of the incident to the perpetrator as opposed to American society. Non-Korean Americans, Korean Americans, and Koreans in the United States had more negative emotions (e.g., unhappy, sad, and upset) about the incident than Koreans in Korea did. The results also indicated that individuals differed in their attributions and emotions depending on how they categorized the perpetrator. For example, categorizing the perpetrator as being a Korean was positively related to Americans' tendency to hold the perpetrator responsible, while categorizing the perpetrator as being an American was negatively related to the tendency to hold the perpetrator responsible among Koreans in Korea. The findings may imply that social identity theory, intergroup emotion theory, and cultural orientations (e.g., individualism and collectivism) can provide insights into people's reactions to a tragic incident.
- Korean Americans
- Social identity