Hear me out: How to create an open mind towards moral criticism

Inga Katharina Rösler

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 1 (Research UU / Graduation UU)


When we try to encourage others to change their behavior, we often use feedback to communicate our views. However, if a target person belongs to a different social group and we criticize their moral behavior, people often respond defensively to being criticized. How can we make people more open to receiving such criticism? In 6 studies, using both traditional social psychological and neuroscientific methods (i.e., EEG), Inga Rösler examined how people deal with being criticized for their immorality and by outgroup members. Additionally, she looked for ways to make people more open to such criticism. The research shows that there are two strategies, both easily to be applied in practice and daily life, that outgroup critics can use when delivering criticism. Firstly, a critic should try to make the competence of a person, rather than their morality, the focal point addressed in a critical message. And secondly, a critic should communicate their helpful intentions behind giving criticism. These two strategies offer two novel ways to create an open mind towards moral criticism.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Ellemers, Naomi, Primary supervisor
  • van Nunspeet, Félice, Co-supervisor
Award date1 Apr 2022
Place of PublicationUtrecht
Print ISBNs978-94-6423-719-1
Electronic ISBNs978-94-6423-719-1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • morality
  • EEG
  • ERP
  • competence
  • feedback
  • ingroup
  • outgroup
  • intergroup
  • psychology
  • emotions


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