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A large portion of research in the social sciences is devoted to combating societal and social problems, such as prejudice, discrimination, and intergroup conflict, with interventions. However, these interventions are often developed based on the theories and/or intuitions of those who developed them and evaluated in isolation without comparing their efficacy to other interventions. Here, we make the case for an experimental design that addresses such issues: an intervention tournament, i.e., a study that compares several different interventions against a single control and utilizes the same standardized outcome measures during assessment and participants drawn from the same population. We begin by highlighting the utility of intervention tournaments as an approach that complements other, more commonly used, approaches to addressing societal issues. We then describe various approaches to intervention tournaments, which include crowdsourced, curated, and in-house developed intervention tournaments, with their unique characteristics. Finally, we discuss practical recommendations and key design insights for conducting such research, based on the existing literature. These include considerations of intervention tournament deployment, characteristics of included interventions, statistical analysis and reporting, study design, longitudinal and underlying psychological mechanism assessment, and theoretical ramifications.
Perspectives on Psychological Science
1 –16
© The Author(s) 2022
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DOI: 10.1177/17456916211058090
Complicated problems, such as violent conflicts,
inequality, mass migration, climate change, vaccine
hesitancy, and global pandemics, necessitate extraor-
dinary efforts to resolve. As a prominent example, the
novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has affected the lives
of almost all human beings, infecting and killing mil-
lions (World Health Organization [WHO], n.d.) and
severely damaging the world economy (Ayittey etal.,
2020). COVID-19 was found to be highly contagious
and transmitted from asymptomatic infected individuals
(Nishiura etal., 2020; Rothe etal., 2020). Thus, epide-
miologists argued that curbing the pandemic would be
challenging without the development of an effective
vaccine (Chen etal., 2020; Sah etal., 2021), which led
to a race to develop one; the first vaccines were
approved in December 2020 (e.g., Baden etal., 2021;
Callaway, 2020; Polack etal., 2020). This race included
dozens of labs around the world that developed and
tested potential vaccines in parallel by using their own
theories, outcome measures, and benchmarks and
focusing on whether their approach was effective and
why (Callaway, 2020; Le etal., 2020). At the same time,
given the urgency of the situation, many researchers and
policymakers pushed for a collaborative approach. Cor-
respondingly, on April 9, 2020, WHO (2020) published a
call for a single, large, and international vaccine “tourna-
ment” of the vaccines developed at different labs to iden-
tify the most effective vaccine compared with a single
placebo condition. This call is a useful example of the
alternative, result-oriented approach that has gained
prominence in the study of medicine to address pressing,
complicated, and costly health-related problems (see
1058090PPSXXX10.1177/17456916211058090Hameiri, Moore-BergPerspectives on Psychological Science XX(X)
Corresponding Authors:
Boaz Hameiri, The Program in Conflict Resolution and Mediation, Tel
Aviv University
Samantha L. Moore-Berg, Annenberg School for Communication,
University of Pennsylvania
Intervention Tournaments: An Overview
of Concept, Design, and Implementation
Boaz Hameiri1 and Samantha L. Moore-Berg2
1The Program in Conflict Resolution and Mediation, School of Social and Policy Studies, Tel Aviv University,
and 2Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
A large portion of research in the social sciences is devoted to using interventions to combat societal and social
problems, such as prejudice, discrimination, and intergroup conflict. However, these interventions are often developed
using the theories and/or intuitions of the individuals who developed them and evaluated in isolation without
comparing their efficacy with other interventions. Here, we make the case for an experimental design that addresses
such issues: an intervention tournament—that is, a study that compares several different interventions against a
single control and uses the same standardized outcome measures during assessment and participants drawn from the
same population. We begin by highlighting the utility of intervention tournaments as an approach that complements
other, more commonly used approaches to addressing societal issues. We then describe various approaches to
intervention tournaments, which include crowdsourced, curated, and in-house-developed intervention tournaments,
and their unique characteristics. Finally, we discuss practical recommendations and key design insights for conducting
such research, given the existing literature. These include considerations of intervention-tournament deployment,
characteristics of included interventions, statistical analysis and reporting, study design, longitudinal and underlying
psychological mechanism assessment, and theoretical ramifications.
intervention tournament, psychological interventions, social issues
2 Hameiri, Moore-Berg
Adaptive Platform Trials Coalition, 2019; Parmar etal.,
2014; Wason etal., 2016), although, in the case of the
COVID-19 vaccine, it was eventually not endorsed by the
research community. We argue that in the social sciences,
however, this approach has been underused.
Thus, the aim of the current article is to make the
case for and describe the utility of an “intervention
tournament” in the psychological sciences to address
societal problems. Intervention tournaments (which
are sometimes also called “multiarm trials,“interven-
tion contests,” “comparative evaluations,” or “mega-
studies”) are studies that compare several different
interventions against a single control condition with
the same standardized outcome measure(s) and par-
ticipants drawn from the same population (Bruneau
etal., 2018; Efentakis & Politis, 2006; Lai etal., 2014;
Milkman etal., 2021; Parmar etal., 2014; for elaborate
extensions of this approach used in medical research,
see Adaptive Platform Trials Coalition, 2019; Wason
etal., 2016). We begin by identifying the two main
approaches used to advance solutions and, in particu-
lar, interventions to pressing social and medical prob-
lems. Then, we focus on intervention tournaments
by providing its definition and main types. This is fol-
lowed by a nuanced discussion that includes some
practical considerations and recommendations and the
benefits and limitations for conducting psychological
intervention tournaments in the lab and field settings
to address societal problems.
Two Approaches to Intervention
The above example of how researchers, clinicians, prac-
titioners, and policymakers addressed the COVID-19
vaccine development suggests that there are two dif-
ferent approaches in which pressing problems can be
addressed, which we refer to as “top-down” and “bottom-
up” for sake of simplicity. In contrast to the bottom-up
approach that can be done with intervention tourna-
ments, on which we elaborate in the following, the top-
down approach—sometimes called the “mechanism-in-
isolation design” (Lai etal., 2014) or “parallel-group
randomized control trials” (Adaptive Platform Trials
Coalition, 2019)—is the more standard, wildly used,
“status quo” approach and has generally been consid-
ered the “gold standard” approach (e.g., Adaptive Plat-
form Trials Coalition, 2019; Concato et al., 2000;
Kratochwill & Levin, 2014; Slade & Priebe, 2001; Wilson
& Juarez, 2015). It entails the development and assess-
ment of an intervention that is grounded in a specific
theoretical approach, and its goal is to assess if a spe-
cific intervention works and why.
The development of this approach generally pro-
gresses in the following manner. First, researchers
develop a theory to explain a phenomenon. For exam-
ple, research that is based on the current coronavirus,
as well as on previous SARS and MERS outbreaks, found
that one of the main reasons why the coronavirus is
highly contagious is because of its spikes (which also
gives the virus its name, corona, Latin for “crown”),
which can attach to particular proteins in human airway
cells (Li, 2016; Tian etal., 2020). Second, following this
molecular understanding of the disease, researchers
and practitioners then developed an intervention
according to their theoretical understanding of corona-
virus biology. For example, given the knowledge of the
coronavirus spikes, some labs tried to develop vaccines
aimed at exposing the body to a spike protein, which
would cause the immune system to recognize it as an
antigen, or foreign entity (Callaway, 2020; Le etal.,
2020; Liu etal., 2020). Third, researchers and practitio-
ners tested this intervention in isolation compared with
a control (placebo) condition and in some cases to a
second intervention that was previously found to be
effective. For example, when developing a vaccine,
there is an agreed protocol (with some variants; see
e.g., Adaptive Platform Trials Coalition, 2019; Bothwell
etal., 2016) that needs to be followed closely to prove
a vaccine is effective and safe for use by the general
public. This approach includes random assignment
between the treatment and placebo groups.
We would argue that although the process of devel-
oping most psychological interventions is not identical,
it is similar. For example, recent research conducted by
Bruneau and colleagues (Kteily etal., 2016; Moore-
Berg, Ankori-Karlinsky, et al., 2020; Moore-Berg,
Hameiri, & Bruneau, 2020; see also Lees & Cikara, 2020,
2021; Ruggeri etal., 2021) identified that overly pes-
simistic metaperceptions—or how one thinks out-group
members view one’s in-group—are prominent psycho-
logical factors that feed intergroup hostility. Specifically,
individuals tend to think that adversarial out-group
members hold much more negative views of the in-
group than they do in reality. For example, Moore-Berg,
Ankori-Karlinsky, et al. (2020) found that Democrats
and Republicans in the United States think that people
from the out-group party dislike and dehumanize them
at least twice as much as they actually do, which is
strongly associated with antipathy and spiteful policy
support that comes at the expense of the country. Given
this theoretical understanding, several different inter-
ventions that aim to correct overly pessimistic metaper-
ceptions were developed and assessed vis-à-vis a
control group (Kteily etal., 2016; Lees & Cikara, 2020;
Mernyk etal., 2022). For example, in one study in the
Perspectives on Psychological Science XX(X) 3
context of partisan polarization in the United States,
Lees and Cikara (2020) developed an intervention in
which they showed participants the true value of the
partisan out-group perceptions together with the par-
ticipants’ perceived metaperceptions. Compared with a
control condition in which participants were just
reminded of their own metaperceptions, the interven-
tion successfully reduced negative metaperceptions
and, consequently, negative motivational attributions
toward the out-group. This original study was then
replicated in nine additional countries, which estab-
lished the robustness of this psychological intervention
(Ruggeri etal., 2021).
Although the benefits of this top-down approach
should not be discarded, we argue that it does entail
several drawbacks. First, when such studies are con-
ducted, the ability to compare interventions across dif-
ferent studies is challenging. That is, it is unclear whether
different studies that compare target interventions with
different control groups are comparable, which makes
it challenging to determine whether a given intervention
is more (or less) effective compared with other interven-
tions. Second, top-down mechanism-in-isolation studies
do not necessarily rely on standardized outcome mea-
sures and often are examined at different times with
different outcome measures. Thus, it is difficult to deter-
mine what the most relevant outcomes are and whether
these same outcomes would be equally affected by
other interventions that aim to ultimately achieve the
same goal. These outcomes are based on assumptions
and decisions made by the researchers themselves that
in some cases could be contested and challenged
(Paluck etal., 2019; Pettigrew & Hewstone, 2017). This
is exacerbated by what Pettigrew and Hewstone (2017)
termed as the “single factor fallacy,” which is the ten-
dency for researchers to rely on their own work, based
on their specific theoretical framework and variables
they focus on, to develop and assess interventions. As
a consequence, important factors, including alternative
explanations and theories, or other important variables,
may be overlooked. Finally, and as mentioned above,
the top-down approach is rather limited in its ability to
tackle complicated problems quickly and efficiently
because it is based on the available resources each lab
has and each lab compares the intervention or interven-
tions with different and unstandardized control groups
(e.g., Adaptive Platform Trials Coalition, 2019; Bothwell
etal., 2016; Wilson & Juarez, 2015).
Conversely, the bottom-up approach is result-oriented
and focuses on finding a solution to a problem by iden-
tifying what is effective in the most cost-effective and
efficient manner possible with a set of agreed-on out-
come measures. This can be done with intervention
tournaments. An intervention tournament compares
several different interventions against the same control
and standardized outcome measures. Interventions can
be selected using different criteria (e.g., established
theory), as we elaborate on below. The interventions
are then assessed with participants drawn from the same
population to isolate which intervention or interventions
is most effective. The main goal of an intervention tour-
nament is to identify the most successful approach or
approaches for mitigating the problem at hand, which
means that establishing the mechanism through which
one intervention is effective is secondary to the main
goal of this approach. Although this approach has
gained prominence in medical research, as the WHO
(2020) call for a single COVID-19 vaccine tournament
exemplifies, to the best of our knowledge and as men-
tioned above, in the social sciences, this approach is still
relatively underused (but see Axelrod & Hamilton, 1981;
Bruneau etal., 2018; Lai etal., 2014, 2016; Milkman etal.,
2021). Thus, with the aim of facilitating the use of inter-
vention tournaments in the social sciences, in the heart
of the current article, we define this approach, review
common features and issues when intervention tourna-
ments are used, identify different types of intervention
tournaments, and offer recommendations to promote
best practices and avoid potential pitfalls in their design,
deployment, and reporting.
Intervention Tournaments
Broadly speaking, an intervention tournament is an
experiment that tests and evaluates the causal effects
of different approaches, or interventions, on a set of
outcome measures with participants drawn from the
same population (Bruneau etal., 2018; Lai etal., 2014,
2016; Milkman etal., 2021; Parmar etal., 2014). As
mentioned above, the goal of an intervention tourna-
ment is to assess what is effective in addressing a social
problem compared with a single control condition.
Therefore, the question of why an intervention is effec-
tive is secondary. However, given its importance, the
mechanism or mechanisms can be preliminarily exam-
ined as part of the intervention tournament and then
more thoroughly tested with follow-up studies, as we
elaborate on below. In other words, the goal of inter-
vention tournaments is to select interventions that
researchers think might work to address pressing prob-
lems (see elaboration on inclusion criteria later in the
article) and test their initial effectiveness. Then, if effec-
tive, researchers can work backward to identify why
they worked and what the boundary conditions of the
successful intervention or interventions are.
We argue that there are several benefits to the inter-
vention-tournament approach. First, it is efficient
because it allows for the comparison of numerous
4 Hameiri, Moore-Berg
interventions in a fast and cost-effective manner to iden-
tify the most effective intervention or interventions, if
any (Freidlin etal., 2008). Second, it uses a standardized
approach within a given tournament to assess the inter-
ventions such that the interventions are measured with
the exact same outcome measures and with participants
from the same population. As elaborated on below, we
suggest that there can be considerable variations
between different intervention tournaments. Third,
when conducted among a large and diverse sample,
intervention tournaments can also identify potential
moderators, which shows that different interventions
are effective for individuals with different characteristics,
which can be a stepping-stone in designing personal-
ized interventions (e.g., Bar-Tal & Hameiri, 2020;
Bruneau, 2015; Collins & Varmus, 2015; Cuijpers etal.,
2016; Halperin & Schori-Eyal, 2020; Hirsh etal., 2012).
In the next section, we describe three distinct types
of intervention tournaments that are based on either
crowdsourcing (e.g., Axelrod & Hamilton, 1981; Bennett
& Lanning, 2007; Forscher etal., 2020; Lai etal., 2014,
2016; Milkman etal., 2021; Uhlmann etal., 2019; see
also WHO, 2020), curating (e.g., Bruneau etal., 2018;
Moore-Berg, Hameiri, Falk, & Bruneau, 2022), or in-
house development of interventions (e.g., Bruneau
etal., 2022; Van Assche etal., 2020; see also Efentakis
& Politis, 2006).
Crowdsourced intervention tournaments are perhaps
the most promising type of intervention tournaments
and are also in line with recent calls for more collab-
orative science (e.g., Forscher etal., 2020; IJzerman
etal., 2020; Moore-Berg, Bernstein, et al., 2022; Uhlmann
etal., 2019). A crowdsourced intervention tournament
calls on scientists, practitioners, media experts, and so
on to submit intervention ideas to be assessed within
a single context (for a similar approach, the Metaketa
Initiative, that examines the same intervention com-
pared with numerous control groups and in some cases
alternative interventions across multiple diverse geo-
graphic regions, see Leaver, 2019). For example, to
promote flu (and potentially COVID-19) vaccinations
in the United States, Milkman et al. (2021) crowd-
sourced 19 different nudge interventions created by 26
behavioral scientists. They tested these different nudges
against one control group on one standardized outcome
(i.e., receiving the flu shot) in an intervention tourna-
ment. They found that out of the 19 interventions, six
significantly increased the percentage of participants
who received the flu shot by approximately 3% to 4%
compared with the control (42%) and that on average,
all 19 nudges increased vaccination levels by 2.1%.
As a second example, Lai et al. (2014, 2016) held a
series of crowdsourced intervention tournaments to
identify the interventions that are the most effective at
reducing implicit racial biases. To do this, Lai and col-
leagues sent out a call for different labs to propose
what they believe to be the most effective intervention
to reduce implicit racial bias. They then received 17
interventions in total that were based on a diverse set
of hypothesized mechanisms (e.g., exposure to positive
exemplars, imagined contact, perspective taking, induc-
ing empathy). Lai and colleagues compared all of these
interventions with a no-intervention control condition
in an iterative process—researchers who contributed
interventions to the tournament were able to modify
their intervention on the basis of the results of previous
rounds of the tournament (i.e., studies), which then led
to greater effectiveness in reducing implicit intergroup
bias across the studies (for a similar approach, see
Axelrod, 1980a, 1980b; Axelrod & Hamilton, 1981).
Across these four intervention-tournament studies, Lai
et al. (2014) found eight interventions to be most effec-
tive at reducing implicit racial bias. In a follow-up inter-
vention tournament, Lai et al. (2016) found that all eight
successful interventions from Lai et al. (2014) were
again effective in reducing implicit racial bias when
assessed immediately after the interventions but that
these effects did not persist when the participants were
reassessed several hours to days later. We return to the
notion of replicating original results and the longitudi-
nal aspect of intervention tournaments in the next
Note that these crowdsourced intervention tourna-
ments are not limited to researchers and research labs,
which will likely submit interventions on the basis
of their own work and theoretical framework (see
Pettigrew & Hewstone, 2017). Crowdsourced interven-
tion tournaments can also be used to solicit interven-
tions developed by practitioners, media experts,
filmmakers, and so on. These individuals can develop
potentially effective and engaging interventions that
rely on their creativity, expertise, experience, intuition,
and contextual knowledge (Bar-Tal & Hameiri, 2020;
Bruneau etal., 2022; IJzerman etal., 2020). Further-
more, crowdsourcing interventions from those outside
of academia can improve the external validity of the
research by incorporating interventions already used
in the field.
Curated intervention tournaments have gained
increased attention in recent years through the work of
Bruneau and colleagues (2018; see also Moore-Berg,
Hameiri, Falk, & Bruneau, 2022). In this approach, the
researchers themselves curate different interventions
that they believe have the potential to mitigate a spe-
cific problem. Specifically, the curators can take real-
world interventions that others, mostly practitioners,
have been using, test them in an intervention tourna-
ment, and then identify why they were effective, if
Perspectives on Psychological Science XX(X) 5
indeed they were. For example, in Bruneau and col-
leagues’ work, they included various interviews, docu-
mentary segments, and news clips available in mainstream
media that they—and the practitioners they consulted—
thought would reduce levels of Islamophobia. Thus,
the interventions themselves are generally created and
disseminated before assessment, whether it is in the
mainstream media, social media, or elsewhere, and are
developed on the basis of the creators’ intuition of what
would constitute an effective intervention. However,
although these creators may develop compelling and
engaging content, they rarely rigorously test the effec-
tiveness of these materials in achieving the desired
outcomes (Davidson, 2017).
For example, Bruneau et al. (2018) conducted an
intervention tournament to identify videos that most
effectively reduce the tendency of non-Muslims to col-
lectively blame all Muslims for the actions of individual
Muslim extremists. The underlying theoretical assump-
tion is that collective blame increases Islamophobia
among non-Muslims by feeding negative and aggressive
attitudes and behaviors toward Muslims. Therefore, the
aim of this intervention tournament was to find the most
effective intervention to short-circuit this tendency.
Thus, Bruneau at al. curated videos that were created
by both Muslim and non-Muslim practitioners. The
researchers chose these videos because they were both
compelling and diverse in terms of styles of delivery
(didactic, narrative, satire) and their underlying theories
(that were mapped onto them a priori by the research-
ers). Bruneau et al. found that a 2-min video that showed
an interview with a Muslim American woman discussing
the tendency of non-Muslim Americans to blame all
Muslims for terror attacks but not blame Christians for
extremism by individual Christians was most effective
at reducing collective blame among non-Muslims and,
correspondently, hostility toward Muslims. Bruneau and
colleagues then replicated these results in several follow-
up studies using a conceptually similar intervention
(Bruneau etal., 2018, 2020).
In a supplemental study, Bruneau et al. (2018) asked
an independent set of participants to rate the extent
to which they thought the videos would be most effec-
tive at reducing Islamophobia. Participants underesti-
mated the potential effect of this particular collective
blame video and forecasted that it would be much less
effective in reducing collective blame of Muslims com-
pared with the obtained effects. This highlights the
need to rigorously test the effectiveness of interven-
tions rather than rely solely on the intuition of research-
ers, laypeople, and the people who create these
interventions and materials. Many of the curated inter-
ventions Bruneau and colleagues used in their research
(see also Gallardo etal., 2022; Moore-Berg, Hameiri,
Falk, & Bruneau, 2022) were developed by practitio-
ners to promote their goal to reduce Islamophobia in
the United States but were never experimentally tested.
The results of these curated intervention tournaments
highlight the importance of conducting this rigorous
Finally, in-house-developed intervention tourna-
ments tend to have a somewhat different goal than
crowdsourcing and curated intervention tournaments.
In this approach, the interventions created for the inter-
vention tournament are in many cases based on a single
theory because they are the product of one group of
researchers or a single lab. The different interventions
in the tournament can be, for example, a series of
interventions with different underlying mechanisms but
the same goal, or they can be different iterations of the
same intervention with the same underlying goal. As an
example from outside of the social sciences, researchers
might design different iterations of polymer networks
of the same drug to determine the most effective drug-
delivery system (Efentakis & Politis, 2006). In the social
sciences, this can be, for example, manipulating the
delivery techniques and media style (e.g., providing
guided self-help via face-to-face meetings vs. via email
to address eating disorders; Jenkins etal., 2021) of the
same source materials or examining the optimal dose
of an intervention (e.g., one vs. three sessions of expo-
sure therapy to prevent the development of posttrau-
matic stress disorder; Maples-Keller etal., 2020).
For example, Bruneau et al. (2022) created a series
of 10 different video interventions aimed at promoting
more conciliatory views of FARC ex-combatants among
non-FARC Colombians.1 All of the videos were created
by the researchers in collaboration with local filmmakers
and were based on the same source material, which
included interviews with FARC ex-combatants and their
non-FARC Colombian neighbors in a rural demobiliza-
tion camp. The interviews addressed non-FARC Colom-
bians’ misperceptions of FARC ex-combatants’, including
their willingness or unwillingness to let go of violence
and reintegrate into mainstream Colombian society.
Thus, the core of all the videos highlighted evidence of
the successful coexistence between these demobilized
FARC members and their local neighbors. The main
variation between the videos was the interviewee (i.e.,
ex-combatants, non-FARC Colombians, or both) and the
order of their appearance (i.e., ex-combatants before
non-FARC Colombians or vice versa). Bruneau et al.
found that most videos were effective in reducing anti-
FARC beliefs and attitudes among non-FARC Colombians
and increased support for pro-FARC policies and for
the peace process between non-FARC and ex-FARC
6 Hameiri, Moore-Berg
Colombians. However, one video, which focused on
FARC ex-combatants’ unwillingness and ability to change
and reintegrate into the Colombian society and included
both FARC ex-combatants and non-FARC responses (in
this order), was the most effective both immediately and
longitudinally approximately 10 to 12 weeks later. In
the intervention tournament and in preregistered follow-
up studies, in which these results were replicated,
Bruneau et al. also provided some insight into the
underlying psychological mechanism. It seemed that
this video was effective because it changed participants’
belief about FARC ex-combatants’ ability to change
(Goldenberg etal., 2018; Halperin etal., 2011), but not
affect toward them, and showed an effect on a behav-
ioral measure that can promote peace and reintegration
of FARC ex-combatants.
This highlights the (in-house-developed) interven-
tion tournament as a tool to test different iterations of
a similar intervention to zero in on the most effective
one. In other words, in most cases, the core is similar,
whether it is a drug (Efentakis & Politis, 2006) or the
psychological content (Bruneau etal., 2022; Jenkins
etal., 2021; Maples-Keller etal., 2020; Milkman etal.,
2011; Rosler etal., 2021) that is administered, but the
delivery is different in each of these interventions.
Note that in-house-developed intervention tourna-
ments are not limited to testing different iterations of
the same underlying intervention and can also include
interventions that are based on completely different
underlying mechanisms, which are tested against each
other (e.g., Hameiri etal., 2018; Van Assche etal., 2020;
Yokum etal., 2018) and sometimes against their com-
bination (Kim etal., 2021; Moore-Berg, Hameiri, &
Bruneau, 2022; Rosler etal., 2021). For example, Yokum
et al. (2018) examined the efficacy of different variations
of letters that remind Medicare recipients to get the flu
vaccine. These letters were based on different psycho-
logical mechanisms and included messages with
implementation-intention prompts and enhanced active
choice. Yokum et al. found that all letters, regardless of
their underlying psychological approach, increased vac-
cination rates compared with the control condition.
Key Design Insights From Past
Intervention-Tournament Research
Regardless of which intervention tournament type is
chosen, there are various design considerations that
researchers should take into account when they develop
their intervention tournament. These considerations are
aggregated across the existing intervention-tournament
literature and provide important design insights into
what makes intervention tournaments successful.
Intervention-tournament viability
Researchers who have used intervention tournaments
have taken several approaches to intervention curation
and inclusion, as reviewed above, which include crowd-
sourcing, curating from available materials, or develop-
ing interventions in-house. However, before intervention
procurement and tournament deployment, the first ques-
tion that researchers need to address is whether it is at
all suitable to conduct an intervention tournament to
address the research problem at hand. Indeed, the suit-
ability of an intervention tournament depends on the
type of tournament in question. In cases of crowdsourced
and curated (and to a lesser extent, in-house-developed)
intervention tournaments, the main criterion for conduct-
ing one is the wealth of existing theories and practices
and a collective urgency to address a particular societal
problem. In other words, for an intervention tournament
to be viable, it needs to address a problem that many
feel is important and contain interventions based on
prior research (in case of researchers) or developed
materials that were (most likely) not empirically exam-
ined before (in case of practitioners). It should come as
no surprise, then, that all of the examples we provide
throughout this article include pressing global challenges
such as prejudice, intergroup conflicts, polarization,
Islamophobia, vaccine hesitancy, and so on.
We argue that another criterion for a viable interven-
tion tournament is that the problem that is being
addressed is challenging and includes overcoming dif-
ferent psychological barriers (e.g., Bar-Tal & Hameiri,
2020; Hornsey & Fielding, 2017). Challenging problems
necessitate diverse contributions (which can be crowd-
sourced or curated) and out-of-the-box thinking that can
address the problem at hand from multiple angles
(Uhlmann etal., 2019; Van Bavel etal., 2020). Such
problems can also increase the motivation of researchers
and practitioners to prove that they can come up with
the most efficient solution (e.g., Axelrod & Hamilton,
1981; Bennett & Lanning, 2007; Lai etal., 2014, 2016),
which can then be put to the test in a crowdsourced
intervention tournament. Finally, addressing challenging
problems can also benefit from in-house-developed
intervention tournaments, especially when there is an
approach that shows promise but needs more fine-tuning
to, for example, better circumvent psychological barriers
and resistance (e.g., Bruneau etal., 2022).
Soliciting and incentivizing intervention
One important issue specifically relevant to crowd-
sourced intervention tournaments is the process of
Perspectives on Psychological Science XX(X) 7
soliciting and incentivizing intervention submissions.
Although, as mentioned above, conducting an interven-
tion tournament that addresses a pressing and challeng-
ing societal problem can increase the motivation of
researchers and practitioners to take part in an interven-
tion tournament, there are several reasons why people
might still be reluctant to submit interventions to
crowdsourced tournaments. These mostly include lim-
ited time and insufficient motivation and incentives to
take part in big-team science (see Forscher etal., 2020;
Uhlmann etal., 2019).
Organizers of crowdsourced intervention tourna-
ments have used different approaches to address these
potential problems. Some have provided the deserved
recognition of the winner or winners of and other par-
ticipants in the crowdsourced tournament, such as Ana-
tol Rapaport, who won a tournament that aimed to
identify the most effective approach in an iterated Pris-
oner’s Dilemma game (Axelrod, 1980a, 1980b; Axelrod
& Hamilton, 1981; granted, providing due credit and
recognition is also important in curated intervention
tournaments). In other cases, intervention-tournament
organizers award prizes (e.g., monetary, authorship) to
intervention developers that withstand the selection
process and are admitted into the tournament (see
Strengthening Democracy Challenge, 2021) or only to
the winners and runners-up (e.g., the Netflix Prize;
Bennett & Lanning, 2007). In many cases, tournament
organizers offer participants authorship on the main
publication that results from the intervention tourna-
ment (e.g., Lai etal., 2014, 2016; Parmar etal., 2014).
Indeed, some provide recognition, prizes, and author-
ship on academic publications as incentives (see
Strengthening Democracy Challenge, 2021).
Moreover, hypothetically, as an additional incentive,
it is also possible to provide participants with the
opportunity to write a stand-alone article that pertains
to their proposed intervention using the intervention-
tournament data (see e.g., Leaver, 2019; Parmar etal.,
2014). However, in many cases, this is not feasible
because the main intervention-tournament article nor-
mally includes all interventions and associated data,
which means that for such a stand-alone article to be
warranted, researchers will need to develop their own
novel research questions and hypotheses (e.g., examin-
ing moderations that were not previously investigated).
Another associated limitation of the intervention-
tournament approach is that this common incentive
scheme can in fact decrease potential participants’ (in
particular, researcher participants) motivation to submit
what they might perceive as novel interventions, given
that the intervention tournament might decrease their
chances of publishing a separate publication in a top-tier
journal because it will no longer be novel after being
published in the intervention-tournament article.
Finally, although a thorough discussion on potential
issues that pertain to authorship are beyond the scope
of the current article, we find that in many cases, the
intervention-tournament organizers are listed as either
first or last authors and all other contributors are listed
in an a priori agreed-on order (e.g., in order of effec-
tiveness; see, e.g., Contest Study for Reducing Discrimi-
nation in Social Judgement, 2021) or alphabetically in
between (e.g., Lai etal., 2014, 2016). In agreement with
recent calls for collaborative science, it is advisable that
to provide the appropriate intellectual credit that is due
to each contributor, a thorough and thoughtful contri-
bution statement should be added using, for example,
the CRediT taxonomy (McNutt etal., 2018; for a thor-
ough discussion, see Forscher etal., 2020; Uhlmann
etal., 2019).
Inclusion criteria and amount
of interventions
One question that might arise during intervention cura-
tion and deployment is how many interventions to
include and what the inclusion criteria should be (for
a relevant discussion in medical research, see Lee etal.,
2019; Stallard etal., 2009). Deciding what to include in
an intervention tournament is not an easy task and is
influenced by various factors that are not necessarily
under the control of the researchers, such as available
resources and number of submissions in crowdsourced
tournaments. Which interventions to include could be
decided on the basis of the expertise, intuition, and
knowledge of the field of the researchers themselves
(e.g., Bruneau etal., 2022); by consulting practitioners
(e.g., Gallardo etal., 2022); or, more rigorously, through
a peer-review process (Strengthening Democracy Chal-
lenge, 2021).
The most important inclusion criterion is to include
only interventions that have an underlying theoretical
basis that differentiates one from the other (whether it
is in the content or delivery mode) and warrants their
inclusion in the tournament (e.g., Bruneau etal., 2018;
Gallardo etal., 2022; Lai etal., 2014, 2016; Moore-Berg,
Hameiri, Falk, & Bruneau, 2022). Practically, in case of
multiple submissions of a similar intervention, crowd-
sourced intervention-tournament organizers can, for
example, ask submitters to develop the intervention
collaboratively or select one submitter according to
different criteria, such as having previous publications,
publications on the intervention, or initial compelling
data that the intervention is successful (see Strengthen-
ing Democracy Challenge, 2021).
8 Hameiri, Moore-Berg
A second important selection criterion is whether the
proposed intervention is expected to affect the tour-
nament’s main outcome variable or variables. This
expected efficiency can be determined on the basis of
previous literature on the intervention, and there is a
special emphasis on studies (in most cases, smaller
scale studies) that were conducted preferably in the
same context, using the same population, and with the
same (or comparable) outcome measures (cf. Lee etal.,
2019). For example, if a researcher wants to reduce
interpartisan animosity in the United States, a strong inter-
vention contender could be Lees and Cikara’s (2020)
metaperception-correction intervention described
above. This is because Lees and Cikara found their
intervention to be effective at reducing a related out-
come measure (support for purposeful obstructionism
among partisans) in the same context among a similar
population—an effect that was later replicated in many
contexts across the globe (Ruggeri etal., 2021).
A third criterion, which is also somewhat at odds with
the previous one, is the degree of novelty of the inter-
vention. This novelty is vis-à-vis other competing inter-
ventions in the intervention tournament or the current
state of the art in research and in practice. As mentioned
above, intervention tournaments are an efficient way to
examine the effectiveness of interventions (e.g., Freidlin
etal., 2008). Thus, in some cases, such as when testing
interventions in a context that has not been heavily
researched (e.g., using a curated intervention tourna-
ment) or trying to refine an already promising interven-
tion (e.g., using an in-house-developed intervention
tournament), intervention tournaments allow research-
ers and practitioners to experiment with novel ideas.
In this case, intervention tournaments can test dif-
ferent ideas that have only an intuitive appeal or anec-
dotal evidence to support their effectiveness that can
be developed specifically for the tournament or curated
for it (e.g., Bruneau etal., 2018). It can derive interven-
tions that were established and shown to be effective
in one context and population with a set of outcome
measures (e.g., self-affirmation intervention to increase
group-based guilt, tested in the context of the Israeli–
Palestinian conflict and Bosnia and Herzegovina;
ˇehajic´-Clancy etal., 2011) and test them in another
context and population with a related set of outcome
measures (e.g., improving intergroup attitudes follow-
ing the Paris and Brussels terror attacks; Van Assche
etal., 2020). Finally, novelty can be injected by imple-
menting different principles from other literatures (e.g.,
on attitude change and persuasion to circumvent resis-
tance to conflict resolution) to test different iterations
of an already promising intervention to find the most
effective iteration of it (Bruneau etal., 2022; see also
Efentakis & Politis, 2006).
We argue that although it makes sense to include as
many interventions as possible in the tournament, the
number of tested interventions should be based on the
resources available to run an intervention tournament
that is sufficiently statistically powered to detect differ-
ences between each of the different interventions and
the control condition (see elaboration below). In prac-
tice, intervention tournaments typically vary in the
number of interventions included. For instance, whereas
Lai et al. (2014) included 18 crowdsourced interventions
in their initial tournament (including a sham interven-
tion), Van Assche et al. (2020) included three in-house-
developed interventions.
Potential issues with intervention-
inclusion criteria
Intervention tournaments can sometimes include inter-
ventions that are diverse in terms of the underlying
psychological content, modes of delivery, length, level
of engagement, and so on. In some cases, these differ-
ences are inevitable because they are an inherent part
of the intervention. For example, when it comes to
reducing implicit prejudice (Lai etal., 2014, 2016), some
researchers might argue that the best way to address
this issue is by teaching individuals a new skill that can
help them respond empathically, which addresses an
important aspect of prejudice. Other researchers might
argue that to effectively combat prejudice, one has to
provide inconsistent information to change people’s
attitudes regarding the prejudiced group (see Bar-Tal &
Hameiri, 2020; Hameiri etal., 2014). This can be done,
for example, by facilitating some form of intergroup
contact (e.g., in person, vicarious, or imagined; e.g.,
Crisp & Turner, 2012; Dovidio etal., 2017; Pettigrew &
Tropp, 2006). These types of interventions will undoubt-
edly be operationalized differently. In one, participants
might be asked to participate in a 15-min-long session
in which they learn and exercise a new tool that can
help them express more empathy (see the work on
cognitive reappraisal as an acquired tool to promote
better intergroup relations; e.g., Halperin etal., 2014;
Hurtado-Parrado etal., 2019). In the other, they might
be asked to passively watch—or actively watch when it
comes to virtual reality—a short 2- to 5-min video that
includes members of the prejudiced out-group (e.g.,
Bruneau etal., 2018; Hasson etal., 2019).
Granted, these differences are sometimes unavoid-
able and in fact might provide critical information about
the effectiveness of the different interventions as real-
world interventions (see e.g., Bar-Tal & Hameiri, 2020).
For example, a lengthy intervention might be less suc-
cessful, which would indicate that although the psy-
chological content has the potential to reduce prejudice,
Perspectives on Psychological Science XX(X) 9
people lose interest or do not have the motivation to
go through a longer intervention, which ultimately ren-
ders the intervention to be less effective (e.g., Tamir,
2009; Tamir etal., 2020). In other cases, in which the
interventions are curated or created in-house, it is likely
that the characteristics (e.g., mode of delivery, length)
of the interventions will be easier to control. In these
cases, it is advisable to include interventions with simi-
lar characteristics to reduce a potential confound. How-
ever, these characteristics can also be controlled in a
crowdsourced intervention tournament (see e.g., Lai
etal., 2014; Strengthening Democracy Challenge, 2021).
For example, guidelines can request that all submitted
interventions be ethical (e.g., that they do not include
any deception), be completed in less than a specific
amount of time (e.g., 5 min), be online, and be costless
(e.g., that they do not provide any additional monetary
incentives for participation).
Although this approach has its merits, because it
allows for an intervention tournament that creates an
even playing field for the participating interventions
(and reduces the risk of potential confounds, as mentioned
above), it also points to a limitation in the intervention-
tournament approach that should be noted. Although
some variation across interventions might be acceptable,
most intervention tournaments compare short (or light
touch) interventions, which may have the potential to
be scaled up relatively easily but might also be less
effective, especially across time, than longer and more
intense interventions (Paluck et al., 2021), such as
months-long in-person or virtual-contact interventions
(e.g., Bruneau, Hameiri, etal., 2021; Mousa, 2020). Con-
tact interventions can still be included in an intervention
tournament; however, for them to be comparable with
other interventions, they are normally parasocial or
vicarious (as opposed to in person) contact interven-
tions (e.g., Gallardo etal., 2022). Although longer, more
intense interventions can be tested in intervention tour-
naments, it is much rarer and usually done as part of
an in-house-developed intervention tournament and in
collaboration with organizations that provide the infra-
structure for such a complicated endeavor either in edu-
cational, organizational, or clinical settings, in most
cases (Jenkins etal., 2021; Leventhal etal., 2015; Maples-
Keller etal., 2020). As an example, Leventhal et al.
(2015) examined different months-long curricula—
including two separate curricula and their combination
compared with an active control—to promote resilience
and well-being among girls in 76 schools in Bihar, India.
Deploying intervention tournaments
Following intervention procurement, the researchers
are then tasked with considering how to deploy the
intervention tournament. In most cases, a lab setting
might be more feasible in terms of available resources.
It can also be more useful because it allows researchers
to have more control over the experimental design
(Wilson etal., 2010), but potentially at the expense of
external validity (e.g., Eastwick etal., 2013; Mitchell,
2012). This includes assuring that there will be no spill-
over between the conditions, which is more likely to
occur when the study includes numerous conditions
and all participants are sampled from the same popula-
tion. Intervention tournaments can also be conducted
in field settings. For instance, researchers could partner
with organizations that deploy interventions in the com-
munity and work with them to develop an intervention
tournament with a randomized control design (see e.g.,
Milkman etal., 2021; Yokum etal., 2018). On top of
the clear benefits to external validity, this type of
deployment can foster collaborations across both labo-
ratories and practitioners, which creates easier access
to testing the intervention in hard-to-reach places (see
Acar etal., 2020; Bar-Tal & Hameiri, 2020; Moore-Berg,
Bernstein, et al., 2022). However, field intervention
tournaments should be conducted with extra care to
avoid doing more harm than good, especially when the
interventions that are tested do not have a clear track
record that establishes their effectiveness (e.g., in
curated intervention tournaments).
Comparing intervention efficiency
Following the curation and testing of the interventions,
researchers are then tasked with deciding how to com-
pare the interventions. There are three important deci-
sions to make: (a) what the outcome measure or
measures are, (b) what statistics to compare, and (c)
what type of control condition or conditions to include
in the intervention tournament. As mentioned above,
one of the first decisions the researchers make when
considering whether to deploy an intervention tourna-
ment is what problem (ranging from concrete to
abstract) to address. This decision then directly trans-
lates to the specific outcome measures that are included
in the tournament. Concrete problems are usually oper-
ationalized as one specific outcome measure. For exam-
ple, Milkman et al. (2021) attempted to increase flu
vaccination by using nudging text messages. Therefore,
their only outcome measure was the extent to which
their participants got vaccinated. Likewise, Lai et al.
(2014) attempted to reduce implicit prejudice and there-
fore focused on participants’ Implicit Association Test
(IAT) scores as an outcome measure (although they did
include one additional measure of self-reported racial
attitudes, the tournament’s winners were decided using
only the IAT scores).
10 Hameiri, Moore-Berg
Abstract problems, on the other hand, usually mean
that different outcome variables are measured that
reflect different operationalizations of the abstract prob-
lem. These, in many cases, include behavioral and
policy-relevant measures (in addition to attitudinal or
affective measures) that are more closely related to
the problem. For example, Bruneau et al. (2022)
aimed to promote peace and reintegration of FARC ex-
combatants in Colombia. Therefore, the researchers
measured a variety of outcome measures but focused
on a few that included, most notably, participants’ sup-
port for the peace process in Colombia and their sup-
port for policies that aim to help ex-combatants
reintegrate into Colombian society. On top of these
outcomes, Bruneau et al. also measured relevant atti-
tudinal and affective measures such as the perception
that FARC ex-combatants are unwilling and unable to
let go of violence, dehumanization, intergroup empa-
thy, and prejudice.
Finally, in between those two ends of the spectrum,
there are some instances in which a problem can be
operationalized in several different concrete ways. For
example, the Strengthening Democracy Challenge
(2021) organizers are interested in strengthening U.S.
democracy given rising levels of polarization and inter-
partisan prejudice (e.g., Iyengar etal., 2019). This rather
abstract goal was then operationalized as three concrete
outcomes (i.e., antidemocratic attitudes, support for
partisan violence, and partisan animosity, which
includes a behavioral measure). In other words, the
tournament organizers were equally interested in pro-
moting better interpartisan relations and combating the
process of democratic norm erosion in the United
Next, in the vast majority of intervention tourna-
ments, efficiency of interventions is determined by
assessing whether the difference between each interven-
tion and the control condition is statistically significant
(below we elaborate on whether these analyses should
be adjusted because of multiple comparisons) and by
reporting the size of these effects. In the minority of
cases, following the initial intervention tournament, and
as we elaborate below, the efficiency of interventions
is then assessed in a follow-up study that examines
whether the effects persisted for a period of time and
in replication studies that examine whether the effect is
reliable (see e.g., Bruneau etal., 2022; Gallardo etal.,
2022; Lai etal., 2014, 2016; Moore-Berg, Hameiri, Falk,
& Bruneau, 2022).
It is common for researchers to compare the interven-
tions to an empty control (i.e., no intervention) condi-
tion rather than to an active control (placebo) condition.
This is because it is extremely difficult in the psycho-
logical sciences to come up with an active control
condition that will not bias the results in any way (e.g.,
increase positive affect, cognitive flexibility), especially
compared with several other, theoretically diverse, com-
peting interventions. However, an empty control condi-
tion has two major limitations that an active control
condition can address. Specifically, when an empty con-
trol is used, participants can realize that they are in the
control condition, which can then affect how they
respond to the outcome measures. Indeed, this is less
of a concern when the outcomes are behavioral (e.g.,
in the case of getting flu vaccinations; Milkman etal.,
2021) or implicit (e.g., in the case of the IAT; Lai etal.,
2014, 2016). However, when the outcome measures are
mostly self-reported, then the fact that participants are
not blind to their condition can yield potential bias in
the results because of demand characteristics (for a
related discussion in medical research, see Freidlin
etal., 2008). Second, using an active control can reduce
potential selection bias (albeit, it cannot be completely
eliminated; see Uschner etal., 2018). On the other hand,
unlike an active control, an empty control prevents a
potentially biased control condition and, as noted previ-
ously, requires no additional resources to deploy (i.e.,
does not require additional resources to develop the
active control condition) and provides a potentially true
baseline of attitudes and opinions.
Addressing Type I and II errors
Regardless of which type of control condition the inter-
ventions are compared with, multiple comparisons are
being made, which requires the researchers to carefully
consider how to address potential Type I (i.e., false
positive) and Type II (i.e., false negative) errors. There
are diverging views about whether researchers should
include some (and what type of) statistical correction
because multiple comparisons are being made. Some
have argued that no correction is needed, especially in
cases of intervention tournaments that examine distinct
interventions and is exploratory, because the compari-
sons that are being made (between each intervention
and control) are independent (Parker & Weir, 2020;
Rubin, 2021). Others have argued that some type of
correction is needed, especially in cases of intervention
tournaments that examine iterations of the same inter-
vention (which is mostly relevant to the in-house-
developed intervention tournaments) and are confirma-
tory (Freidlin etal., 2008; Wason etal., 2014; Wason &
Robertson, 2021). Note that intervention tournaments
in the psychological sciences are more often explor-
atory than confirmatory.
Given these diverging views, we argue that to rule out
potential Type I and Type II statistical errors, it is impor-
tant for researchers to include multiple, preregistered,
Perspectives on Psychological Science XX(X) 11
and statistically powered replication studies with new
participants (e.g., Bruneau etal., 2022; Calanchini etal.,
2021; Lai etal., 2014, 2016; Moore-Berg, Hameiri, Falk,
& Bruneau, 2022). For instance, in Moore-Berg, Hameiri,
Falk, and Bruneau (2022), the researchers initially con-
ducted a 12-condition intervention tournament to exam-
ine the effectiveness of video interventions at reducing
Islamophobia. From this initial intervention tournament,
the authors identified three interventions that were most
successful at decreasing support for punitive policies
toward Muslims. They then conducted five follow-up
preregistered and large-scale replication studies to rule
out potential Type I and II errors. Likewise, Lai et al.
(2014) conducted several replication studies following
the initial intervention tournament and eventually tested
each intervention 3.70 times on average (see also
Axelrod, 1980a, 1980b). By replicating the results in pre-
registered and sufficiently powered studies, researchers
can considerably reduce the concern that the effects they
find in the intervention tournament are a mere fluke,
which increases the results’ robustness. If replication
studies are not feasible, researchers are advised to use
various statistical techniques to account for multiple
comparisons, such as reporting q values on top of the
customary statistical indices (see Milkman etal., 2021;
Wason & Robertson, 2021).
Underlying mechanisms of interventions
In addition to ruling out Type I and II errors, replication
studies add further benefit of teasing out the underlying
mechanism or mechanisms of the successful interven-
tions identified in the tournament, especially when
considering the curated and in-house-developed inter-
vention tournaments. In most cases, researchers and
practitioners will have some sense of the potential psy-
chological mechanisms at play before the intervention
tournament, as in Bruneau et al. (2018) and Moore-
Berg, Hameiri, Falk, and Bruneau (2022; see also
Calanchini etal., 2021). In other cases, researchers can
tease apart a successful intervention after it is found to
be successful to pinpoint the psychological mechanism
from potential candidates. Both approaches have
unique benefits associated with them and are not mutu-
ally exclusive. For instance, focusing on specific mecha-
nisms before the intervention tournament can help the
researchers during intervention curation. That is, the
researchers might be interested in identifying interven-
tions that increase empathy toward out-group members.
Therefore, they might select only videos that appear to
induce empathy on the basis of their intuitions. Then,
the researchers might conduct a confirmatory study to
ensure that empathy was the mechanism involved and/
or tease apart additional psychological mechanisms that
might be at play. However, there might be other cases
in which researchers want to take a more exploratory
approach to the intervention tournament and include,
for example, interventions generally thought to improve
implicit attitudes toward out-group members (see Lai
etal., 2014). In this case, the researchers might include
an assortment of promising interventions that appear
to improve intergroup relations and focus only on iden-
tifying the mechanism after determining which inter-
vention or interventions are most effective. For this
more exploratory approach, the researchers might con-
sider selecting several theoretical mechanisms that
could drive the intervention’s effects a priori and then
rule out which theoretical mechanism is most effective
in subsequent follow-up studies.
Longitudinal intervention tournaments
As a final consideration for intervention-tournament
design, some tournaments include a longitudinal com-
ponent (e.g., Bruneau etal., 2022; Lai etal., 2016;
Moore-Berg, Hameiri, Falk, & Bruneau, 2022). Including
a longitudinal component as part of intervention-
tournament design has several benefits. First, it can serve
as another criterion for determining which intervention
or interventions are most successful. For instance,
Moore-Berg, Hameiri, Falk, and Bruneau (2022) admin-
istered the same questionnaire (without the interven-
tions) to the same participants in the intervention
tournament 1 month following the tournament. They
considered an intervention to be successful only when
it maintained its significant effects on the outcome dur-
ing the 1-month follow-up study (see also Bruneau
etal., 2022). Second, a longitudinal component can be
another way to rule out Type I error and demand char-
acteristics. By demonstrating that an effect lasts over
time, researchers can have increased confidence that
the effect was driven by the intervention itself rather
than a statistical or methodological errors. Third, it can
increase researchers’ confidence in the effectiveness of
the intervention. Like all longitudinal studies, demon-
strating that an effect lasts beyond the initial testing
increases the robustness of the research. Unfortunately,
only a small minority of all studies that assess the effec-
tiveness of interventions include a longitudinal element
(Paluck etal., 2021).
The goal of the current article was to increase the use
of intervention tournaments in the psychological sci-
ences by providing the pros and cons of this approach
and practical considerations for psychological scientists
who are interested in using it. We argue that intervention
12 Hameiri, Moore-Berg
tournaments hold the potential to greatly improve scien-
tific research—they allow for the efficiency of testing of
multiple interventions at once, encourage the collabora-
tion across research labs with diverse expertise and/or
between academics and practitioners, and improve the
external validity of research. Intervention tournaments
also hold the potential to increase the rigor of applied
research that assesses interventions that are designed and
implemented by practitioners. However, we note that
intervention tournaments are no panacea. Although it is
an efficient approach, because it tests several interven-
tions at once by means of a single control condition, a
single study does require considerable resources to
ensure sufficient statistical power, especially if research-
ers want to use a nationally representative sample or
collaborate with organizations that have the capabilities
and infrastructure to run such complicated studies in the
field. Furthermore, and as mentioned above, the focus
on identifying the more effective approach means that
the intervention tournament does not inherently provide
an answer to why the successful intervention or interven-
tions was indeed the most effective.
As we have elaborated on in this article, there are
several elements that we suggest researchers should
incorporate in their research to use this approach effec-
tively while also minimizing its limitations. These
include, most notably, conducting replication studies
that can address issues of statistical errors and shed
light on potential psychological mechanisms and some
limitations in the intervention-selection process. We
argue that when this approach is used diligently, inter-
vention tournaments complement existing approaches
to intervention science by providing the opportunity
for rigorous investigation of interventions against other
interventions. This sort of rigorous testing is necessary
to push the field of intervention science forward and
establish theoretical bases for which interventions are
most successful.
Action Editor: Adam Cohen
Editor: Laura A. King
Author Contributions
B. Hameiri and S. L. Moore-Berg contributed equally to
this work and are listed in alphabetical order.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared that there were no conflicts of
interest with respect to the authorship or the publication
of this article.
This work was supported by Israel Science Foundation
(ISF) Grant 1590/20 (awarded to B. Hameiri).
Boaz Hameiri
Samantha L. Moore-Berg
We are grateful to Emile Bruneau for inspiration; many of the
ideas in this article reflect conversations and collaborations
with Emile in his effort to put science to work for peace, and
we were deeply saddened by his loss to brain cancer on
September 30, 2020. We thank Daniel Bar Tal, Emily Falk,
and Michael Pasek for their helpful comments on earlier
versions of the article.
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Filter Bubbles, exacerbated by use of digital platforms, have accelerated opinion polarization. This research builds on calls for interventions aimed at preventing or mitigating polarization. This research assesses the extent that an online digital platform, intentionally displaying two sides of an argument with methodology designed to “open minds” and aid readers willingness to consider an opposing view. This “open mindedness” can potentially penetrate online filter bubbles, alleviate polarization and promote social change in an era of exponential growth of discourse via digital platforms. Utilizing “The Perspective” digital platform, 400 respondents were divided into five distinct groups varying in number of articles reading material related to “Black Lives Matter” (BLM). Results indicate that those reading five articles, either related or unrelated to race, were significantly more open-minded towards BLM than the control group. Those who read five race-related articles also showed significantly reduced levels of holding a hardliner opinion towards BLM than control.
Full-text available
Members of historically advantaged groups are often unwilling to support actions or policies aimed at reducing inequality between advantaged and disadvantaged groups, even if they generally support the principle of equality. Based on past research, we suggest a self-affirmation intervention (an intervention in which people reflect on a positive trait or value in order to affirm their positive self-image) may be effective for increasing the willingness of advantaged group members to address inequality. Importantly, while self-affirmation has in the past only operationalized as a written exercise, in this project we adapt it into video messages for use in public campaigns. In Study 1, we experimentally tested an initial video adaptation of self-affirmation and found that it is effective in increasing the willingness of advantaged group members to address inequality in the context of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel. Based on this study, NGOs developed a real campaign video and used it in their public campaign, and we tested this applied intervention (in Study 2) and found it to be effective compared to a control condition that only presented information about inequality. Together, these studies represent the first implementation of self-affirmation in real world campaigns and indicate that it can be effective way to increase support for action to address inequality.
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Whereas politicians broker peace deals, it falls to the public to embrace peace and help sustain it. The legacy of conflicts can make it difficult for people to support reconciling and reintegrating with former enemies. Here we create a five-minute media intervention from interviews we conducted with Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) ex-combatants in a Colombian demobilization camp and non-FARC Colombians in neighbouring communities. We show that exposure to the media intervention humanizes FARC ex-combatants and increases support for peace and reintegration. These effects persisted at least three months post-exposure, were replicated in an independent sample of non-FARC Colombians and affected both attitudes (for example, support for reintegration policies) and behaviour (for example, donations to organizations supporting ex-combatants). As predicted, the intervention’s effects were mediated by changing conflict-associated cognitions—reducing the belief that ex-combatants are unwilling and unable to change—beyond affective pathways (for example, increased empathy or reduced prejudice). Bruneau et al. show that a five-minute video intervention is able to effectively promote support for the reintegration of former Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces combatants into Colombian society.
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The current paper is a personal account, describing the behind the scenes of an ongoing translational research project, initiated by Emile Bruneau in 2018, in collaboration with a team of scientists, filmmakers, and protagonists of the peace process in Colombia. The paper is divided to two sections. The first section highlights the raising demand for the use of brain and behavioral sciences in program design and evaluation, especially to update and advance the area of peace and security. The second section reviews how we applied the three significant steps proposed by Moore-Berg, Bernstein et al. (in press) to carry out a research project faithful to the translational science approach in Colombia by: (1) engaging with the communities involved to learn about the issues they face; (2) partnering with practitioners, to do research that will affect change in those communities; and (3) translating findings through different forms of engagement. Finally, we offer some concluding remarks about the advantages of adopting a Bruneau-ian approach to research.
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There is a growing push within the social sciences to conduct translational science that not only advances theory but also achieves real world impact. The goals of this paper are (1) to encourage scholars to engage in translational science by conducting research that responds to pressing social challenges, and (2) to provide concrete recommendations on how to incorporate such practices into their research programs. To do this, we bring together perspectives of academics and practitioners who have experience merging science with practice. We begin by defining what translational science is, describing the benefits of engaging in translational science for peace and conflict studies, and highlighting past research that has done this successfully. Next, we describe various aspects of conducting translational science, such as how researchers can partner with non-academic stakeholders to create social impact and advance scientific theory, and how they can disseminate findings for public impact. We also address key challenges researchers might face when conducting translational research and provide practical tips that social scientists can use to effectively to engage in what we coin the “Bruneauian” approach for how to address such challenges. Specifically, we focus on the skills needed for study design and deployment, how researchers can sensitively interact with vulnerable communities, statistical and methodological considerations, logistical challenges, and how to develop relationships with practitioners. Finally, we conclude with a practitioner’s perspective on how to foster these types of relationships.
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Peacemaking is especially challenging in situations of intractable conflict. Collective narratives in this context contribute to coping with challenges societies face, but also fuel conflict continuation. We introduce the Informative Process Model (IPM), proposing that informing individuals about the socio-psychological processes through which conflict-supporting narratives develop, and suggesting that they can change via comparison to similar conflicts resolved peacefully, can facilitate unfreezing and change in attitudes. Study 1 established associations between awareness of conflict costs and conflict-supporting narratives, belief in the possibility of resolving the conflict peacefully and support for pursuing peace among Israeli-Jews and Palestinians. Studies 2 and 3 found that exposure to IPM-based original videos (vs. control) led Israeli-Jews to deliberation of the information presented, predicting acceptance of the IPM-based message, which, in turn, predicted support for negotiations. Study 3 also found similar effects across IPM-based messages focusing on different conflict-supporting themes. We discuss the implications to attitude change in intractable conflicts.
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Whereas politicians broker peace deals, it falls to the public to embrace peace and help sustain it. The legacy of conflicts can make it difficult for people to support reconciling and reintegrating with former enemies. Here we create a five-minute media intervention from interviews we conducted with Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) ex-combatants in a Colombian demobilization camp and non-FARC Colombians in neighbouring communities. We show that exposure to the media intervention humanizes FARC ex-combatants and increases support for peace and reintegration. These effects persisted at least three months post-exposure, were replicated in an independent sample of non-FARC Colombians and affected both attitudes (for example, support for reintegration policies) and behaviour (for example, donations to organizations supporting ex-combatants). As predicted, the intervention’s effects were mediated by changing conflict-associated cognitions—reducing the belief that ex-combatants are unwilling and unable to change—beyond affective pathways (for example, increased empathy or reduced prejudice). Bruneau et al. show that a five-minute video intervention is able to effectively promote support for the reintegration of former Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces combatants into Colombian society.
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There is a growing push within the social sciences to conduct translational science that not only advances theory but also achieves real world impact. The goals of this paper are (1) to encourage scholars to engage in translational science by conducting research that responds to pressing social challenges, and (2) to provide concrete recommendations on how to incorporate such practices into their research programs. To do this, we bring together perspectives of academics and practitioners who have experience merging science with practice. We begin by defining what translational science is, describing the benefits of engaging in translational science for peace and conflict studies, and highlighting past research that has done this successfully. Next, we describe various aspects of conducting translational science, such as how researchers can partner with non-academic stakeholders to create social impact and advance scientific theory, and how they can disseminate findings for public impact. We also address key challenges researchers might face when conducting translational research and provide practical tips that social scientists can use to effectively to engage in what we coin the “Bruneauian” approach for how to address such challenges. Specifically, we focus on the skills needed for study design and deployment, how researchers can sensitively interact with vulnerable communities, statistical and methodological considerations, logistical challenges, and how to develop relationships with practitioners. Finally, we conclude with a practitioner’s perspective on how to foster these types of relationships.
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Western countries have witnessed increased hostility towards Muslims among individuals, and structurally in the ways that media covers stories related to Islam/Muslims and in policies that infringe on the rights of Muslim communities. In response, practitioners have created media interventions that aim to reduce Islamophobia. However, it is unclear what causal effects these interventions have on reducing Islamophobia. Here we test the effects of 11 media interventions developed by practitioners with an intervention tournament among U.S. samples. In Study 1, we identified three videos that most effectively reduced Islamophobia, both immediately after watching and one-month later. In Studies 2-4, we examined the psychological mechanisms of these successful videos and found an indirect effect of the interventions on reduced support for anti-Muslim policies through recognition of media bias against Muslims. This research highlights that drawing attention to structural biases, including biased media coverage of Muslims, is one potential target for ameliorating Islamophobia.
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Scientists often adjust their significance threshold (alpha level) during null hypothesis significance testing in order to take into account multiple testing and multiple comparisons. This alpha adjustment has become particularly relevant in the context of the replication crisis in science. The present article considers the conditions in which this alpha adjustment is appropriate and the conditions in which it is inappropriate. A distinction is drawn between three types of multiple testing: disjunction testing, conjunction testing, and individual testing. It is argued that alpha adjustment is only appropriate in the case of disjunction testing, in which at least one test result must be significant in order to reject the associated joint null hypothesis. Alpha adjustment is inappropriate in the case of conjunction testing, in which all relevant results must be significant in order to reject the joint null hypothesis. Alpha adjustment is also inappropriate in the case of individual testing, in which each individual result must be significant in order to reject each associated individual null hypothesis. The conditions under which each of these three types of multiple testing is warranted are examined. It is concluded that researchers should not automatically (mindlessly) assume that alpha adjustment is necessary during multiple testing. Illustrations are provided in relation to joint studywise hypotheses and joint multiway ANOVAwise hypotheses.
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Objective Increasing the availability and accessibility of evidence‐based treatments for eating disorders is an important goal. This study investigated the effectiveness and cost‐effectiveness of guided self‐help via face‐to‐face meetings (fGSH) and a more scalable method, providing support via email (eGSH). Method A pragmatic, randomized controlled trial was conducted at three sites. Adults with binge‐eating disorders were randomized to fGSH, eGSH, or a waiting list condition, each lasting 12 weeks. The primary outcome variable for clinical effectiveness was overall severity of eating psychopathology and, for cost‐effectiveness, binge‐free days, with explorative analyses using symptom abstinence. Costs were estimated from both a partial societal and healthcare provider perspective. Results Sixty participants were included in each condition. Both forms of GSH were superior to the control condition in reducing eating psychopathology (IRR = −1.32 [95% CI −1.77, −0.87], p < .0001; IRR = −1.62 [95% CI −2.25, −1.00], p < .0001) and binge eating. Attrition was higher in eGSH. Probabilities that fGSH and eGSH were cost‐effective compared with WL were 93% (99%) and 51% (79%), respectively, for a willingness to pay of £100 (£150) per additional binge‐free day. Discussion Both forms of GSH were associated with clinical improvement and were likely to be cost‐effective compared with a waiting list condition. Provision of support via email is likely to be more convenient for many patients although the risk of non‐completion is greater.
Progress in psychology has been frustrated by challenges concerning replicability, generalizability, strategy selection, inferential reproducibility, and computational reproducibility. Although often discussed separately, these five challenges may share a common cause: insufficient investment of intellectual and nonintellectual resources into the typical psychology study. We suggest that the emerging emphasis on big-team science can help address these challenges by allowing researchers to pool their resources together to increase the amount available for a single study. However, the current incentives, infrastructure, and institutions in academic science have all developed under the assumption that science is conducted by solo principal investigators and their dependent trainees, an assumption that creates barriers to sustainable big-team science. We also anticipate that big-team science carries unique risks, such as the potential for big-team-science organizations to be co-opted by unaccountable leaders, become overly conservative, and make mistakes at a grand scale. Big-team-science organizations must also acquire personnel who are properly compensated and have clear roles. Not doing so raises risks related to mismanagement and a lack of financial sustainability. If researchers can manage its unique barriers and risks, big-team science has the potential to spur great progress in psychology and beyond.
Significance Prominent events, such as the 2021 US Capitol attack, have brought politically motivated violence to the forefront of Americans’ minds. Yet, the causes of support for partisan violence remain poorly understood. Across four studies, we found evidence that exaggerated perceptions of rival partisans’ support for violence are a major cause of partisans’ own support for partisan violence. Further, correcting these false beliefs reduces partisans’ support for and willingness to engage in violence, especially among those with the largest misperceptions, and this effect endured for 1 mo. These findings suggest that a simple correction of partisans’ misperceptions could be a practical and scalable way to durably reduce Americans’ support for, and intentions to engage in, partisan violence.
Scholars, policy makers, and the general public have expressed growing concern about the possibility of large-scale political violence in the United States. These worries find support in studies revealing that many American partisans support the use of violence against rival partisans. Here we propose that support for partisan violence is based in part on greatly exaggerated perceptions of rival partisans’ support for violence. We also predict that correcting these inaccurate “metaperceptions” can reduce partisans’ own support for partisan violence. We test these hypotheses in a series of pre-registered, nationally representative, correlational, longitudinal, and experimental studies (total n = 4,741), collected both before and after the 2020 U.S. Presidential election and the 2021 U.S. Capitol attack. In Studies 1 and 2 we found that both Democrats’ and Republicans’ perceptions of their rival partisans’ support for violence and willingness to engage in violence were very inaccurate, with estimates ranging from 239% to 489% higher than actual levels. Further, we find that a brief, informational correction of these misperceptions reduced support for violence by 37% (Study 3) and willingness to engage in violence by 44% (Study 4). In the latter study, a follow-up survey revealed the correction continued to significantly reduce support for violence approximately one month following the study. Together, these results suggest that support for partisan violence in the United States stems in part from systematic overestimations of rival partisans’ support for violence, and that correcting these misperceptions can durably reduce support for partisan violence in the mass public.
Anti-migrant policies at the U.S. southern border have resulted in the separation and long-term internment of thousands of migrant children and the deaths of many migrants. What leads people to support such harsh policies? Here we examine the role of two prominent psychological factors—empathy and dehumanization. In Studies 1 and 2, we find that empathy and dehumanization are strong, independent predictors of anti-migrant policy support and are associated with factually false negative beliefs about migrants. In Study 3, we interrogated the relationship between empathy/dehumanization, erroneous beliefs, and anti-migrant policy support with two interventions: a media intervention targeting empathy and dehumanization and an intervention that corrects erroneous beliefs. Both interventions were ineffective separately but reduced anti-migrant policy support when presented together. These results suggest a synergistic relationship between psychological processes and erroneous beliefs that together drive harsh anti-migrant policy support.