Current approaches to humanizing members of an outgroup in contexts marked by protracted intergroup conflict see mixed success. In both Study 1, conducted on a random sample of Israeli Jews (N = 103), and Study 2, conducted on a nationally diverse sample of Israeli Jews (N = 670), we experimentally test the effect of a unique approach to humanizing the outgroup based on empathy. Instead of requiring individuals to express empathy for outgroup suffering they might have caused, this approach requires an expression of empathy for suffering unrelated to the conflict between the groups. Results suggest that such an expression of empathy from one group member toward the other group can lead to “reciprocal empathy” which facilitates a greater willingness to accept the humanity of all members of the other group.
Journal: Journal of Experimental Political Science