1 Minute Intervention to Reduce Prejudice Through Logic

Applied ICD

Berger, Michele W. (October 7, 2019). A simple intervention enduringly reduces anti-Muslim sentiment. Penn Today.

“Research from the Annenberg School for Communication found that calling out the hypocrisy of collective blame—holding an entire group that’s not our own responsible for acts of a single person—significantly lessened hostile sentiments toward that group…Emile Bruneau, who runs the Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, wanted to understand why collective blame—holding an entire population responsible for the acts of a single person belonging to that group—happens and how challenging it might be to change. He and colleagues from Northwestern University and the University of Granada found that by using a simple, one-minute intervention, they could reduce anti-Muslim sentiment on the spot. What’s more, the effect held when tested again a month, and a year later.

“For the experimental group, participants went through what the researchers dubbed a “Collective Blame Hypocrisy” intervention at the initial encounter. First, participants read three descriptions of violence committed by white Europeans like Anders Breivik, a right-wing extremist who went on a shooting rampage, killing 77 people in Norway in 2011. After each example, participants rated how responsible they felt white Europeans were as a group, and how responsible they personally were, for those attacks.

“Next, they read a description of the 2015 Islamic State–led violence in Paris, accompanied by the biography of a Muslim woman named Fatima Wahid who owned a bakery there. How responsible were Fatima and others like her, participants were asked, for the violence they’d just read about? “The Spaniards who went through the simple exercise replied with a 10 on the 100-point scale,” Bruneau says. “That’s a fourfold difference from the control group.” Responses to questions about participants’ anti-Muslim sentiments (which included those assessing support for allowing Muslim refugees into Spain and for anti-Muslim policies such as closing down mosques in Spain) also improved for those who did the intervention.

“That difference in perception remained steady even a year out—the finding Bruneau says he is most excited by. “A one-minute, logical activity shook the collective blame of Muslims enough that anti-Muslim sentiments were less than the control group a full year later,” he says.

Original publication citation:
Bruneau, E., Kteily, N. S., & Urbiola, A. (2019). A collective blame hypocrisy intervention enduringly reduces hostility towards Muslims. Nature Human Behavior.

Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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