How do messages from political elites interact with individual traits of citizens to spur intergroup aggression? Building on research in social psychology, we expect that in places of protracted conflict, violent rhetoric from elites will be enough to mobilize antagonism toward an outgroup, especially among those who are generally less apt to be hostile toward the outgroup. We present results from two large survey experiments, the first conducted with young Jewish-Israeli adults across Israel and the second with a nationally diverse sample of adults in India. The results show that mild “fighting” words (e.g. “battle,” “fight”), combined with a reference to the outgroup, provoke significantly greater support for policies that harm the outgroup among some citizens. This effect is largest among individuals low in outgroup prejudice and low in aggressive personality traits, people who are usually less inclined to support policies that hurt the outgroup. Effects of violent rhetoric persist even with policies and rhetoric to help the outgroup. This work highlights the importance of considering both individual traits and contextual factors together to understand their full impact in the study of intergroup conflict.
Peled, Yehuda, Efrat Pieterse, Mandy B. Medvin, and Linda P. Domanski, “Normative Beliefs About Cyberaggression in Israeli Youth.” In Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2015 (ed. D. Slykhuis & G. Marks; Chesapeake, Va.: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, 2015), 1265-1270.
We examined student views about cyberaggression among Israeli 5th-10th grades using a self-report, cross-sectional design. Results from 823 Jewish-Israeli and Arab-Israeli youth were analyzed on measures of normative beliefs about cyberaggression, face-to-face aggression, strategy responses to hypothetical cyber scenarios, and amount of electronic usage. Findings indicated that normative beliefs about cyberaggression were associated with traditional aggression, increased with grade, that males had higher normative beliefs than females, and that gender differences in cyberstrategies were supported. Normative beliefs predicted direct cyberaggressive strategies more clearly than indirect strategies, regardless of degree of electronic usage. Findings suggest that such views can influence student choices of behaviors, but that methodologically we need a clearer understanding of the influence of beliefs on indirect strategies.