Kill or be killed: Can correcting misperceptions of out-group hostility de-escalate a violent inter-group out-break?

Nimrod Nir*, Yara Nassir, Yossi Hasson, Eran Halperin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Defueling violent inter-group escalation as it erupts is a major quest for scholars and change agents as it may prevent casualties and further aggression between warring parties. In May 2021, Israel experienced an unprecedented outbreak of ethnic violence between its Jewish and Arab citizens, causing fatalities on both sides and hundreds wounded. During these riots, we conducted two studies aimed at increasing opposition to inter-group violence. The first study revealed that although the vast majority of Jews and Arabs opposed violence, each group perceived their respective out-group as significantly less opposed to such violence, and that meta-perception was strongly associated with participants' own opposition to inter-group violence. The second study found that experimentally exposing Jewish and Arab citizens to information showing that their out-group vastly opposes violence increased participants' own opposition to inter-group violence in the midst of nationwide violent inter-group attacks. A third study, conducted during the ‘June 22 wave of terror’ inside Israel, replicated these results, while demonstrating that the intervention was successful in both increasing opposition to violence and decreasing support for violence. The current work reveals the importance and potency of minimizing inter-group biases and misperceptions via corrective information in reducing inter-group violence and escalation as it occurs.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1004-1018
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Volume53
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. European Journal of Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • corrective information
  • escalation
  • inter-group violence
  • meta-perceptions
  • misperceptions

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