Adolescents' approval of peer and spousal retribution in their culture vs. other cultures: The role of group stereotypes

Ronald O. Pitner*, Ron Avi Astor, Rami Benbenishty, Muhammad M. Haj-Yahia, Anat Zeira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This study examined whether negative group stereotypes similarly affect adolescents' reasoning about peer and spousal retribution in interpersonal situations. Findings from cognitive domain theory, school violence, family violence, and group stereotyping and prejudice literatures were used to examine this. The sample of adolescents was drawn from northern and central Israel and consisted of 1,168 Arab and Jewish students (grades 7-11). A quasi-experimental between-subject design was used, in which the students in each grade were randomly assigned to one of two peer retribution scenarios and one of two spousal retribution scenarios. In each scenario, only the ethnicity of the peers and married couples depicted in the story was systematically altered. The study was a 2 (Arab/Jewish respondent) × 2 (peer retribution scenarios) × 2 (spousal retribution scenarios) factorial design. The findings provide evidence that Arab and Jewish students have negative stereotypes about one another; however, these group stereotypes did not affect their judgments and justifications about peer and spousal retribution. Jewish and Arab students judged peer retribution similarly, but differed in their judgments of spousal retribution. However, altering the ethnic background of the individuals in the scenarios did not affect respondents' judgments. This suggests that respondents in both groups did not base their judgments on negative stereotypes about the out-group, but instead were focusing on the behavioural act itself. Overall, the vast majority of respondents condemned retribution based on moral, social conventional and personal reasons. This inquiry provides evidence that it was the number of justifications endorsed within a specific domain that distinguished Arab and Jewish respondents. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)221-242
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003


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