Cultural Inertia: Framework of Change and Intergroup Relations

Angel Armenta, Miriam J. Alvarez, Rafael Aguilera, Robert Hitlan, Christopher Federico, Michael A. Zárate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


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 (Experiment 2). The findings demonstrate that social interactions rely on perceptions toward change and individual difference factors that anchor one’s willingness to accept change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-672
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.


  • cultural inertia
  • intergroup relations
  • majority
  • minority
  • threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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