Faculty Publications

Cultural Inertia: Framework Of Change And Intergroup Relations

Document Type



cultural inertia, intergroup relations, majority, minority, threat

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin


Cultural change is theorized to generate intergroup hostility. Three experiments apply the Cultural Inertia Model to test the effects of change on intergroup relations. Two predictions of cultural inertia were tested: (a) cultures at rest tend to stay at rest and (b) individual difference variables function as psychological anchors. In static societies, perceived change leads to greater threat (Experiment 1), endorsement of anti-immigration legislation (Experiment 1), and collective angst (Experiments 1 and 2). Perceptions of change in static societies lead to more fear-related emotional reactions (Experiment 3). Framing cultural change as continuous rather than abrupt may be a solution for reducing negative reactions caused by cultural change (Experiments 2 and 3). Individual difference factors function as anchors that cement individuals in a state of uniformity (Experiments 2). The findings demonstrate that social interactions rely on perceptions toward change and individual difference factors that anchor one’s willingness to accept change.


Department of Psychology

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version