The existence and intensity of a conflict are dependent in part on the attitudes and emotions of an individual. Previous studies demonstrated the effectiveness of creating cognitive dissonance in order to change attitudes towards out-group members. The current study examines the ability to decrease negative emotions and to increase the empathy in a conflict situation through the induced compliance paradigm. An experiment was performed on 60 Jewish students in Israel regarding the context of the conflict between Jewish and Arab-Israeli citizens in Israel. Some of the participants (n=43) performed an induced-compliance task focused on writing an essay as an Arab-Israeli student about their emotions after reading an authentic case study. Results revealed that after performing the task, cognitive empathy decreased significantly, while hatred levels increased significantly. In general, activities which were hypothesized to decrease negative emotions and increase empathy caused opposite effects. Findings are discussed in the context of this study’s hypothesis and in respect to related research in this field. Insights from this study may provide useful recommendations for building experimental frameworks which aim to develop and increase empathy during conflict situations. Future research directions are discussed in the context of emotion regulation in regards to inter-group conflict.

Author Bio(s)

Roi Edelstein is a PhD candidate at Tel-Aviv University, the Faculty of Management. He holds an MA in Conflict Resolution (with Honors) from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. His research interests include emotion regulation, inter-group relations and empathy. Contact: roiedelstein@mail.tau.ac.il

Dr. Yigal Rosen is a Senior Research Scientist at Harvard University. His recent studies focus on advancing online and residential learning technologies practices in higher education. Prior to joining Harvard, Yigal was a Senior Research Scientist at Pearson Education. Yigal previously held academic appointments at the University of Haifa, the Open University of Israel and Ben-Gurion University. In 2009 he received the University of Haifa Faculty of Education's Outstanding Lecturer Award. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Haifa, being the youngest recipient of a doctoral degree in the University. Yigal was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University Graduate School of Education and at Tel Aviv University School of Education. Yigal is a co-editor of the recently published book, "Handbook of Research on Technology Tools for Real-World Skill Development". Contact: yigal_rosen@harvard.com


Inter-group relations, empathy, affective dissonance, induced compliance, peace education

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