Living in a Genetic World: How Learning About Interethnic Genetic Similarities and Differences Affects Peace and Conflict

Sasha Y. Kimel*, Rowell Huesmann, Jonas R. Kunst, Eran Halperin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Information about the degree of one’s genetic overlap with ethnic outgroups has been emphasized in genocides, is frequently learned about through media reporting, and is increasingly being accessed via personal genetic testing services. However, the consequence of learning about whether your own ethnic group is either genetically related to or genetically distinct from a disliked ethnic group remains unknown. Across four experiments, using diverse samples, measures and contexts, we demonstrate that altering perceptions of genetic overlap between groups in conflict—in this case Arabs and Jews—impacts factors that are directly related to interethnic hostility (e.g., aggressive behaviors, support of conflict-related policies). Our findings indicate that learning about the genetic difference between oneself and an ethnic outgroup may contribute to the promotion of violence, whereas learning about the similarities may be a vital step toward fostering peace in some contexts. Possible interventions and implications are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)688-700
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume42
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, © 2016 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.

Keywords

  • conflict
  • culture/ethnicity
  • essentialism
  • genetics
  • genocide

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