Testing the impact and durability of a group malleability intervention in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Jan 23;115(4):696-701. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1706800115. Epub 2018 Jan 8.


Fostering perceptions of group malleability (teaching people that groups are capable of change and improvement) has been shown to lead to short-term improvements in intergroup attitudes and willingness to make concessions in intractable conflicts. The present study, a field intervention involving 508 Israelis from three locations in Israel, replicated and substantially extended those findings by testing the durability of a group malleability intervention during a 6-month period of frequent violence. Three different 5-hour-long interventions were administered as leadership workshops. The group malleability intervention was compared with a neutral coping intervention and, importantly, with a state-of-the-art perspective-taking intervention. The group malleability intervention proved superior to the coping intervention in improving attitudes, hope, and willingness to make concessions, and maintained this advantage during a 6-month period of intense intergroup conflict. Moreover, it was as good as, and in some respects superior to, the perspective-taking intervention. These findings provide a naturalistic examination of the potential of group malleability interventions to increase openness to conflict resolution.

Keywords: emotions; intergroup conflicts; mindsets; psychological interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arabs
  • Attitude
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Ethnicity / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Jews
  • Male
  • Negotiating / psychology*
  • Peer Group
  • Peer Influence*
  • Violence / prevention & control
  • Violence / psychology
  • Warfare