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“Intergroup Reconciliation: Effects of Adversary’s Expressions of Empathy, Responsibility, and Recipients’ Trust”

Nadler, Arie
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 32(4): 459-470.

The present study explores the effects of expressions of empathy for
the ingroup’s conflict-related suffering and assumed responsibility
for causing it by a representative of the rival outgroup on
recipient’s willingness for reconciliation. It is suggested that
such positive expressions by an adversary will have positive
effects on reconciliation only in the presence of a basic level of
trust in the outgroup. In two studies, Israeli-Jewish participants
were exposed to a Palestinian leader who either expressed or did
not express empathy and/or Palestinian responsibility for Israelis’
suffering. After reading the speech, participants completed a
questionnaire that measured their attitudes toward reconciliation
with Palestinians. Results of both studies show that whereas
expression of empathy led to more positive attitudes when trust
was high, it tended to have adverse effects when trust was low.
Similar effects were not found for assumed responsibility. Implications
for research on intergroup conflict and reconciliation are


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