Implicit theories block negative attributions about a longstanding adversary: The case of Israelis and Arabs

Liat Levontin*, Eran Halperin, Carol S. Dweck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Attributing the negative behavior of an adversary to underlying dispositions inflames negative attitudes. In two studies, by manipulating both implicit theories and attributions, we show that the negative impact of dispositional attributions can be reduced. Both studies showed that inducing an incremental theory ("traits are malleable") in Israelis kept negative attitudes toward Arabs low (Study1), and political tolerance and willingness to compromise for peace high (Study 2), even when people were oriented toward dispositional attributions. Thus an incremental theory blocked the negative effect of dispositional attributions. Inducing an entity theory ("traits are fixed") had a negative effect on attitudes, tolerance, and compromise when dispositional attributions were salient but not when situational attributions were made salient. These findings have important implications for promoting intergroup relations and conflict resolution.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)670-675
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume49
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attributions
  • Conflict
  • Implicit theories
  • Stereotypes

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