Interventions Highlighting Hypocrisy Reduce Collective Blame of Muslims for Individual Acts of Violence and Assuage anti-Muslim Hostility
Collectively blaming groups for the actions of individuals can license vicarious
retribution. Acts of terrorism by Muslim extremists against innocents, and the spikes in
anti-Muslim hate crimes against innocent Muslims that follow, suggest that reciprocal
bouts of collective blame can spark cycles of violence. How can this cycle be shortcircuited?
After establishing a link between collective blame of Muslims and anti-Muslim
attitudes and behavior, we used an ‘interventions tournament’ to identify a successful
intervention (among many that failed). The ‘winning’ intervention reduced collective
blame of Muslims by highlighting hypocrisy in the ways individuals collectively blame
Muslims – but not other groups (White Americans, Christians) – for individual group
members’ actions. After replicating the effect in an independent sample, we demonstrate that a novel interactive activity that isolates the psychological mechanism amplifies the effectiveness of the collective blame hypocrisy intervention and results in downstream reductions in anti-Muslim attitudes and anti-Muslim behavior.
Bruneau, Emile, Nour Kteily and Emily Falk. 2017. Interventions Highlighting Hypocrisy Reduce Collective Blame of Muslims for Individual Acts of Violence and Assuage anti-Muslim Hostility. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.