Publications by topic

Three Interventions to Reduce Intergroup Conflict and Discrimination:

Educational Interventions

Giving the Underdog a Leg Up: A Counternarrative of Nonviolent Resistance Improves Sustained Third-Party Support of a Disempowered Group

Social, Psychological and Personality Science, 2017 

Emile Bruneau, Daniel Lane, Muniba Saleem


In the current work, we experimentally examined the effect of exposure to a narrative of nonviolent resistance on third-party attitudes toward and support for a disempowered group involved in asymmetric conflict. Across three experiments, we found that Americans exposed to a brief video about Palestinian nonviolent resistance consistently registered more favorable attitudes toward Palestinians than people who watched a film trailer either unrelated to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict or a trailer to a Palestinian-made film about sympathetic Palestinians violently opposing Israelis. Americans’ attitudes toward Palestinians and behavior supporting Palestinian collective action persisted weeks after exposure to nonviolent resistance and were mediated by decreased perceptions that Palestinians are inherently violent. Importantly, positive attitudes toward Palestinians did not result in increased negativity toward Israelis. These data show that exposure to nonviolent resistance can have lasting effects on third-party attitudes and behavior toward an underdog/disempowered group, without driving partisanship.

Minding the Gap: Narrative Descriptions About Mental States Attenuate Parochial Empathy

PLOS ONE, 2015

Emile G. Bruneau, Mina Cikara, Rebecca Saxe


In three experiments, we examine parochial empathy (feeling more empathy for in-group than out-group members) across novel group boundaries, and test whether we can mitigate parochial empathy with brief narrative descriptions. In the absence of individual information, participants consistently report more empathy for members of their own assigned group than a competitive out-group. However, individualized descriptions of in-group and out-group targets significantly reduce parochial empathy by interfering with encoding of targets’ group membership. Finally, the descriptions that most effectively decrease parochial empathy are those that describe targets’ mental states. These results support the role of individualizing information in ameliorating parochial empathy, suggest a mechanism for their action, and show that descriptions emphasizing targets’ mental states are particularly effective.

A Collective Blame Hypocrisy Intervention Enduringly Reduces Hostility Towards Muslims

Nature Human Behavior, 2019 

Emile G. Bruneau, Nour S. Kteily & Ana Urbiola


Hostility towards outgroups contributes to costly intergroup conflict. Here we test an intervention to reduce hostility towards Muslims, a frequently targeted outgroup. Our ‘collective blame hypocrisy’ intervention highlights the hypocrisy involved in the tendency for people to collectively blame outgroup but not ingroup members for blameworthy actions of individual group members. Using both within-subject and between-subject comparisons in a preregistered longitudinal study in Spain, we find that our intervention reduces collective blame of Muslims and downstream anti-Muslim sentiments relative to a matched control condition and that the effects of the intervention persist one month and also one year later. We replicate the benefits of the intervention in a second study. The effects are mediated by reductions in collective blame and moderated by individual differences in preference for consistency. Together, these data illustrate that the collective blame hypocrisy intervention enduringly reduces harmful intergroup attitudes associated with conflict escalation, particularly among those who value consistency in themselves and others.

Interventions Highlighting Hypocrisy Reduce Collective Blame of Muslims for Individual Acts of Violence and Assuage Anti-Muslim Hostility

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2018 

Emile Bruneau, Nour Kteily, and Emily Falk


Collectively blaming groups for the actions of individuals can license vicarious retribution. Acts of terrorism by Muslim extremists against innocents, and the spikes in anti-Muslim hate crimes against innocent Muslims that follow, suggest that reciprocal bouts of collective blame can spark cycles of violence. How can this cycle be short-circuited? After establishing a link between collective blame of Muslims and anti-Muslim attitudes and behavior, we used an “interventions tournament” to identify a successful intervention (among many that failed). The “winning” intervention reduced collective blame of Muslims by highlighting hypocrisy in the ways individuals collectively blame Muslims—but not other groups (White Americans, Christians)—for individual group members’ actions. After replicating the effect in an independent sample, we demonstrate that a novel interactive activity that isolates the psychological mechanism amplifies the effectiveness of the collective blame hypocrisy intervention and results in downstream reductions in anti-Muslim attitudes and anti-Muslim behavior.