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Michal Bilewicz, Anna Stefaniak, Marta Witkowska and Karolina Hansen

Abstract

Two experiments investigated the effects of linguistic abstractness on the experience of collective moral emotions. In Experiment 1 participants were presented with two scenarios about ingroup misbehavior, phrased using descriptive action verbs, interpretative action verbs, adjectives or nouns. The results show that participants experienced slightly more negative moral emotions with higher levels of linguistic abstractness. In Experiment 2 we also tested for the influence of national identification on the relationship between linguistic abstractness and emotional reactions. Additionally, we expanded the number of scenarios. Experiment 2 replicated the earlier pattern, but found larger differences between conditions. The strength of national identification did not moderate the observed effects. The results of this research are discussed within the context of the linguistic category model and psychology of collective moral emotions.