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Fear in groups: Increasing group size reduces perceptions of danger

Tedeschi, Ellen and Armand, Sophia and Buyalskaya, Anastasia and Silston, Brian and Mobbs, Dean (2021) Fear in groups: Increasing group size reduces perceptions of danger. Emotion, 21 (7). pp. 1499-1510. ISSN 1931-1516. doi:10.1037/emo0001004.

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When we face danger or stress, the presence of others can provide a powerful signal of safety and support. However, despite a large literature on group living benefits in animals, few studies have been conducted on how group size alters subjective emotional responses and threat perception in humans. We conducted 5 experiments (N = 3,652) to investigate whether the presence of others decreases fear in response to threat under a variety of conditions. In Studies 1, 2 and 3, we experimentally manipulated group size in hypothetical and real-world situations and found that fear responses decreased as group size increased. In Studies 4 and 5 we again used a combination of hypothetical and real-world decisions to test whether increased anxiety in response to a potential threat would lead participants to choose larger groups for themselves. Participants consistently chose larger groups when threat and anxiety were high. Overall, our findings show that group size provides a salient signal of protection and safety in humans.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Tedeschi, Ellen0000-0001-5297-4809
Mobbs, Dean0000-0003-1175-3772
Additional Information:© 2021 American Psychological Association.
Group:Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipDGE 16-44869
Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for NeuroscienceP2026052
Issue or Number:7
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220106-223604300
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Tedeschi, E., Armand, S., Buyalskaya, A., Silston, B., & Mobbs, D. (2021). Fear in groups: Increasing group size reduces perceptions of danger. Emotion, 21(7), 1499–1510.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:112751
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:08 Jan 2022 22:36
Last Modified:25 Jul 2022 23:14

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