The threat and challenge of a changing society

Illustratie van personen die een andere weg inslaan

In contemporary times, modern societies are undergoing rapid change, due to for instance migration or changing gender-roles. Issues such as political polarisation or racial inequality are apparent examples of the resistance that these changes may bring. Changing group relations may leave especially those who have more to lose (i.e. ethnic majorities or men) feeling left out from new societal developments. To promote cooperation in society, it is important to more closely study and understand the perspectives of those who may feel threatened by change.

In this project, responses to social change are investigated by taking a biopsychosocial approach, meaning that we measure not only people’s self-reported attitudes and affect, but also relatively more autonomous responses. Measuring physiological responses such as heart rate and blood pressure can give insight into processes that people may not explicitly report. Understanding how threat patterns of rigidity and defensiveness shift towards challenge patterns that can open up the debate, may allow diverse groups in society to feel heard, understood and ultimately more included and valued in a constantly changing society.