ArticlePDF Available

Can Abraham Bring Peace? The Relationship Between Acknowledging Shared Religious Roots and Intergroup Conflict

Authors:

Abstract

Although the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict is rooted in contesting ethno-national narratives, it is often also framed and perceived in religious terms. While all 3 groups who consider the region a holy land, namely Jews, Muslims and Christians, have theological roots in common, the potential of emphasizing such commonalities among more than 2 groups and—most importantly—whether acknowledging such shared Abrahamic lineage generally may be an asset for actual peacemaking in the region remains unknown. Focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we aimed to fill this gap by using diverse groups and contexts. In Study 1, American Jews acknowledging their shared Abrahamic lineage with Muslims were more supportive of aid to, and peacemaking with, Palestinians. Next, we broadened this categorization to also include Christians. In Study 2, the more American Jews acknowledged this extended categorization including all 3 groups, the less biased they were toward Muslims and Christians and the more they supported political and territorial conflict solutions. We then took the paradigm to the Middle East. In Study 3, Israeli Jews acknowledging the Abrahamic category showed less bias toward Muslims and Christians and were more supportive of peacemaking, intergroup contact and the two-state solution. Finally, in Study 4, Palestinian-Muslims living in the Palestinian Territories who acknowledged this shared religious lineage showed less bias toward Jews, yet more bias toward Christians. In all studies, findings held when controlling for political orientation or social dominance orientation. Implications for using religious and Abrahamic categorizations for conflict resolution and intergroup relations are discussed.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... In more homogenous contexts promoting a "crosscategorization" or a "dual-identity", as two distinct sub-groups of a shared overarching identity appears to show more beneficial effects (Crisp and Hewstone 2007). Indeed, acknowledging a dual identity, both as devotees of a specific religion (Jewish, or Muslim) and as members of the overarching shared Abrahamic tradition, predicted positive feelings and willingness for contact towards members of the other religion among Jewish and Muslim respondents (Kunst et al. 2019). Attempts were made to base and arouse a sense of shared identity between Jews and Muslims on the study of historical eras of coexistence and collaboration such as the "Golden age of Andalus" (El-Hairan and Martinez-Cuadros 2019). ...
... Hence, we can assume that students evinced a growth in the sense of shared identity. This change appears to have led to decrease in interreligious prejudice (Gaertner and Dovidio 2014), confirming a relationship between interfaith learning, shared interreligious overarching identity and improved interreligious attitudes(Kunst et al. 2019). Students appear to feel that looking inside their historical identity repertoire and finding traces of the other religion within it, has expanded rather than threatened their social identity (El-Hairan and Martinez-Cuadros 2019). ...
Article
Interfaith education appears to have a strong potential for prejudice reduction and for overcoming Islamophobia and antisemitism. Common in-group identity theory contends that awareness of interreligious similarities would reduce intergroup streotypes and anxiety. However, optimal distinctiveness theory assumes that pointing to similarities would actually pose an identity threat to learners, especially members of a minority. Jewish and Muslim Israeli adolescents who studied about similarities and inter religious influences between Islam and Judaism showed varied and contradictory reactions. Jewish students decreased prejudice while Muslim students slightly increased them. Findings are discussed in light of above theories, and point to educational implications.
... Indeed, previous research provides support for this idea. In one line of work, either delineating or just acknowledging the shared lineages and religious beliefs of Abrahamic religious groups (i.e., Muslims, Christians, and Jews) was found to be effective for reducing negative outgroup bias (Kunst & Thomsen, 2015;Kunst, Thomsen, & Sam, 2014), even in the context of actual ongoing violent conflict (e.g., Israel-Palestine; Kunst, Kimel, Shani, Alayan, & Thomsen, 2018). Alternatively, accounting for the impact of morality on violence could be useful for developing "conflict escalation" predictors. ...
Article
Past research finds contradictory evidence suggesting that religion both reduces and increases violent conflict. We argue that morality is an important hub mechanism that can help us understand this disputed relationship. Moreover, to reconcile this, as well as the factors underlying religion's impact on increased violence (i.e., belief versus practice), we draw on Virtuous Violence Theory and newly synthesize it with research on both moral cognition and social identity. We suggest that the combined effect of moral cognition and social identity may substantially increase violence beyond what either facilitates alone. We test our claims using multilevel analysis of data from the World Values Survey and find a nuanced effect of religion on people's beliefs about violence. Specifically, religious individuals were less likely to condone violence while religious countries were more likely to. This combination of theoretical and empirical work helps disentangle the interwoven nature of morality, religion, and violence.
... This in-group/out-group classification ultimately impacts social perception and behaviour, usually associating more positive views and cognitions with and expressing more positive behaviours towards other fellow in-group members [30,31,[37][38][39], or in-group favouritism. One important example is the exhibition of prosocial behaviour, where individuals favour engaging in supportive and helpful behaviours towards those within their own group in comparison to out-groups (e.g., [40][41][42][43]), particularly as people display higher levels of empathy towards in-group members compared to others [44][45][46]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The economic integration of migrants has become increasingly prioritised by European governments. However, Europe’s colonial past and orientalist narratives have contributed to the inevitable othering of migrants, even in the minds of those with the best of intentions. Guided by the self-categorisation theory, we postulate that those involved in supporting migrants to integrate in European societies implicitly categorise them as an out-group, potentially leading to suboptimal integration outcomes and the (inadvertent) exclusion of the very migrants they attempt to integrate. A case study of migrant entrepreneurship support initiatives in Berlin is illustrated as a qualitative, empirical example, providing some evidence for those arguments. The paper concludes with recommendations for practitioners and suggestions for further research.
Article
Full-text available
Like or Respect? Reducing prejudice through dimensions of warmth and competence *Background and aims* The aim of most prejudice reduction programs is to promote sensitivity, that is, to reduce majority society’s hostility or antipathy towards a stigmatized group. Accordingly, such programs target or achieve change primarily in the perceived warmth dimension of prejudice. However, there is another dimension of prejudice, which is often neglected both in empirical and field interventions, and that is the perceived competence of a group, in other words, the extent to which we appreciate people for their capabilities. In the meantime, there are very few prejudice reduction programs that specifically address the promotion of a group’s perceived competence, even though that can be significant for the their educational and occupational integration. In the present paper, I aim to raise awareness to this gap and offer recommendations in this regard. *Methods* I review evidence-based prejudice reduction interventions that are frequently applied in the field and describe the characteristics and findings of corresponding empirical research. My aim is to evaluate these interventions and emphasize best and not so good practices. Additionally, I aim to point out weaknesses of interventions, which derive from focusing solely on warmth-related prejudice and from neglecting competence-related prejudice. *Results* The current review indicates that intervention research and practice pay scarce attention on reducing competence-related prejudice, which inadvertently risks reinforcing such prejudice. In light of this result, based on the analyzed strengths and weaknesses of interventions, I formulated a recommendation package, which could serve as a guideline to promote reduction of competence-related prejudice toward various societal groups (for example, LGBT, immigrants or Roma people) among the Hungarian majority society. *Discussion* Intergroup psychological qualities need to be acknowledged when designing and applying interventions. In the current work, as such quality, I analyzed the nature of prejudice.
Article
Increasing atheism, or the view that there is no God, is a major trend affecting the Western religious landscape. Scholarly interest in atheists has grown together with their number, but unanswered questions abound. In this study, we present survey data (N = 758) collected from deconverted and lifelong atheists in four countries (Australia, Finland, Germany, and Norway), and investigate the relationships between deconversion, religious identity, spiritual identity, and interreligious attitudes. We show that retaining a low level of religious or spiritual identity is more typical for deconverts than life-long atheists. Furthermore, we demonstrate that higher religious or spiritual identity among deconverts is associated with more positive attitudes toward different religious groups (national religious majority, religious minorities in general, and Muslims specifically).
Article
Full-text available
Whether and how societal structures shape individual psychology is a foundational question of the social sciences. Combining insights from evolutionary biology, economy, and the political and psychological sciences, we identify a central psychological process that functions to sustain group-based hierarchies in human societies. In study 1, we demonstrate that macrolevel structural inequality, impaired population outcomes, socio-political instability, and the risk of violence are reflected in the endorsement of group hege-mony at the aggregate population level across 27 countries (n = 41,824): The greater the national inequality, the greater is the endorsement of between-group hierarchy within the population. Using multilevel analyses in study 2, we demonstrate that these psychological group-dominance motives mediate the effects of macrolevel functioning on individual-level attitudes and behaviors. Specifically, across 30 US states (n = 4,613), macrolevel inequality and violence were associated with greater individual-level support of group hegemony. Crucially, this individual-level support, rather than cultural-societal norms, was in turn uniquely associated with greater racism, sexism, welfare opposition, and even willingness to enforce group hegemony violently by participating in ethnic persecution of subordinate out-groups. These findings suggest that societal inequality is reflected in people's minds as dominance motives that underpin ideologies and actions that ultimately sustain group-based hierarchy. social dominance | multi-level mediation | social inequality | racism | ethnic persecution
Article
Full-text available
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.
Article
Recategorization at a higher level reduces tensions between groups. However, recategorization may cause conflicts between the common in-group and a new out-group. Additionally, determinants of conflict between subgroups may enhance conflict at the higher categorization level. In the context of German unification, the authors explored these suggestions with an East German 3-wave longitudinal study and a West German control group. Results show that a salient East German versus West German categorization enhances conflict between subgroups, whereas categorization as German enhances conflict at the common in-group level. Determinants of subgroup conflict also influence conflict at the inclusive level (Germans and foreigners). Thus, recategorization is a 2-edged instrument: Although it reduces conflict at the subgroup level, it may initiate conflict at the common in-group level.
Article
Intergroup relations research has largely focused on relations between members of dominant groups and members of disadvantaged groups. The small body of work examining intraminority intergroup relations, or relations between members of different disadvantaged groups, reveals that salient experiences of ingroup discrimination promote positive relations between groups that share a dimension of identity (e.g., 2 different racial minority groups) and negative relations between groups that do not share a dimension of identity (e.g., a racial minority group and a sexual minority group). In the present work, we propose that shared experiences of discrimination between groups that do not share an identity dimension can be used as a lever to facilitate positive intraminority intergroup relations. Five experiments examining relations among 4 different disadvantaged groups supported this hypothesis. Both blatant (Experiments 1 and 3) and subtle (Experiments 2, 3, and 4) connections to shared experiences of discrimination, or inducing a similarity-seeking mindset in the context of discrimination faced by one’s ingroup (Experiment 5), increased support for policies benefiting the outgroup (Experiments 1, 2, and 4) and reduced intergroup bias (Experiments 3, 4, and 5). Taken together, these experiments provide converging evidence that highlighting shared experiences of discrimination can improve intergroup outcomes between stigmatized groups across dimensions of social identity. Implications of these findings for intraminority intergroup relations are discussed.
Article
This article discusses how seemingly well-intended policies and interventions to reduce intergroup bias by emphasizing colorblindness through overarching commonalities between groups may, either unintentionally or strategically, inhibit efforts to address group-based inequities. First, we discuss the roots of bias in social categorization process, and how changing the way people think about group memberships from separate groups to members of the same group with shared identity improves intergroup attitudes. Second, we describe the subtle nature of contemporary biases, which can help obscure group-based inequities. Third, we explain how and why majority and minority groups may have different preferences for recategorization and consider the potential consequences of these different perspectives for recognizing and addressing disparity and discrimination. We conclude by considering the policy and structural implications of these processes for achieving more equitable societies, not only in principle but also in practice.