The effect of perceived similarity and dissimilarity between in- and out-group members on children's intergroup attitudes and perceptions in a context of conflict

Meytal Nasie*, Shiri Stanescu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Children notice similarities and dissimilarities between people very early in life and are capable of categorizing people into in-groups and out-groups based on these perceptions. Previous research presented contradictory evidence concerning the effects of intergroup (dis)similarity perceptions on intergroup attitudes — or whether similarity-attraction or similarity-differentiation occurs. However, scant research has examined how this plays out in children. The present study aimed to assess how inducing (dis)similarities between in- and out-group members affects children's intergroup attitudes and concepts (positive behavioral intentions, resource distribution, distance, perceived (dis)similarity, and essentialism). We investigated 100 5- and 8-year-old Jewish-Israeli children (48 % girls), in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, regarding their in-group and a “conflict” out-group (Arabs). A pre- and post-test assessed three condition intervention effects on intergroup attitudes: Full, Partial, or No Similarity between the participant and a member of the out-group. The intervention was based on provision of fully similar, partial similar or no similar information about an out-group member according to eight details the participants provided about themselves at T0, referring to their preferences, interests, family composition, and personal appearance. The findings revealed that, generally, Full and Partial Similarity improved attitudes towards the out-group to the same extent, and No Similarity worsened them. Developmental differences were found regarding the effect of the intervention on essentialism. The findings have implications for early intervention programs that include acquaintance with similarities between groups and between their members.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101847
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Volume96
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Keywords

  • Dissimilarity
  • Intergroup attitudes
  • Intergroup perceptions
  • Intervention
  • Similarity
  • Young children

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