The Collective Praise intervention: A brief prosocial intervention reduces hostility towards Muslims
Roman Angel Gallardo, Lab Manager for the Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab, University of Pennsylvania
Globally, Muslims are consistently the subject of discriminatory policies and U.S. Muslims are no exception (Abdelgadir & Fouka, 2019; Samuel, 2019; Simmons, 2019). For example, the U.S. travel ban, formerly known as the Muslim ban, suspended entry to the U.S. from Muslim majority countries and resulted in the separation of thousands of Muslim families by preventing overseas Muslims from reuniting with their families in the U.S. (Niayesh, 2019). One contributor to hostile anti-Muslim policy support is the dehumanization of Muslims (i.e., the belief that Muslims are less than human) and previous research has found Muslims are one of the most dehumanized groups (e.g., Kteily & Bruneau, 2017; Kteily et al., 2015). Given the prevalence of the dehumanization of Muslims and the associated harmful consequences, an intervention that can mitigate such dehumanization is of utmost value.
In our recently published paper, across three preregistered studies (combined N = 2,635), we developed and tested a non-aversive, hypocrisy-based intervention called the collective praise intervention, inspired by the collective blame hypocrisy intervention (Bruneau et al., 2018). The collective praise intervention highlights the hypocrisy involved in attributing ingroup members’ prosocial acts to the entire ingroup (i.e., Christians) but not doing the same for outgroup members (i.e., Muslims). Specifically, we present participants with three factual vignettes of Muslims engaging in prosocial behavior and after each vignette, ask participants to report how much these acts reflect upon Muslims in general. Next, participants are shown three more factual vignettes of Christians engaging in similar prosocial behavior and ask participants to report how much these acts reflect upon Christians in general. The main difference between the first three and latter three vignettes is that one describes a stigmatized outgroup, i.e., Muslims, and the other describes a favored ingroup, i.e., Christians.
Results indicated that collapsed across studies, the collective praise intervention reliably reduced the dehumanization of Muslims, anti-Muslim policy support, and the collective blame of Muslims. Although scholars have previously developed similar hypocrisy-based interventions that reduce hostility towards Muslims (Bruneau, Kteily, & Falk, 2018; Bruneau, Kteily, & Urbiola, 2020; Shulman et al., 2020), we argue that their aversive stimuli (i.e., terrorist acts, ingroup harmdoing) could possibly hinder the scalability and applicability of these interventions. For example, some individuals might be reluctant to voluntarily engage with aversive stimuli when no external incentive is offered (e.g., Hay et al., 2015; Sheppes & Levin, 2013). Another practical issue is that, in many cases, those who can administer these interventions (e.g., advertising agencies, NGOs) are reluctant to be associated with an intervention that depicts terrorist attacks or ingroup harmdoing out of fear of backlash (cf. Paluck & Cialdini, 2014). Thus, given our intervention relies on non-aversive stimuli, we argue that our intervention is less likely to receive resistance from participants and organizations that can disseminate it—allowing for better practical and scalable applications.
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