January 18, 2018

Groups can change and improve

Teaching people that groups can change and improve may be a powerful tool to promote peace. Below, two studies are mentioned, one from 2011 and one from 2018.

Halperin et al. (2011)

A study by Halperin et al (2011) showed that teaching people that groups are capable of change and improvement) can lead to short-term improvements in intergroup attitudes and willingness to make concessions in intractable conflicts. Using a nationwide sample (N = 500) of Israeli Jews, their first study showed that a belief that groups were malleable predicted positive attitudes toward Palestinians, which in turn predicted willingness to compromise. In the remaining three studies, experimentally inducing malleable versus fixed beliefs about groups among Israeli Jews (N = 76), Palestinian citizens of Israel (N = 59), and Palestinians in the West Bank (N = 53)--without mentioning the adversary--led to more positive attitudes toward the outgroup and, in turn, increased willingness to compromise for peace.

Goldenberg et al, (2018)

In an new study, Goldenberg et al. (2018) the long term effects of such interventions were tested. They did a field intervention involving 508 Israelis from three locations in Israel, replicated and substantially extended those findings by testing the durability of a group malleability intervention during a 6-month period of frequent violence. Three different 5-hour-long interventions were administered as leadership workshops. The group malleability intervention was compared with a neutral coping intervention and, importantly, with a state-of-the-art perspective-taking intervention. The group malleability intervention proved superior to the coping intervention in improving attitudes, hope, and willingness to make concessions, and maintained this advantage during a 6-month period of intense intergroup conflict. Moreover, it was as good as, and in some respects superior to, the perspective-taking intervention. These findings provide a naturalistic examination of the potential of group malleability interventions to increase openness to conflict resolution.

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