Ambassadors of Peace? Intergroup Contact and Conflict Resolution in Israel


Theoretical background and objectives

Every year governments, non-governmental organizations and companies spend millions of dollars on "people-to-people" peace-building programs or intergroup contact interventions in conflict-ridden societies (e.g. Football for hope). The assumption behind many of these programs is that they will help transform conflict-ridden into peaceful societies. Yet, little is known as to whether effects of these programs ever go beyond improving the out-group attitudes held by immediate program beneficiaries and contribute to mitigating hostility in their in-group communities. The "ambassadors of peace" project tries to address this latter question. We examine if and how a peace and contact program in Israel affects the way participants relate to their in-group peers.

If peace-building programs are effective in transforming participants, these participants will likely deviate from their in-group community in a number of important ways. In this situation, behaviors focused on dissent or deviance towards fellow in-group members can be more relevant and effective than cooperation, at least in the long run (Cikara & Paluck, 2013). We thus ask can peace-building programs cause individuals to dissent from their in-group and take positions vis-à-vis their in-group peers that promote harmony and non-violence towards the out-group?

We focus on a range of outcomes, including in-group mobilization and in-group censuring, individual willingness to mitigate inter-group hostility by censuring aggressive actions of in-group peers toward out-group individuals. In-group focused strategies include standing up to extremist's violent provocation (although that is difficult to measure

Research design, data and methodology

Methodologically, we combine three strategies: A difference in differences pilot study, an innovative randomized controlled trial, and a cross-sectional survey including current and former participants in the program.

Main content

Selected Publications

Ditlmann, Ruth/Samii, Cyrus (2016): "Can Intergroup Contact Affect Ingroup Dynamics? Insights from a Field Study with Jewish and Arab-Palestinian Youth in Israel". In: Peace and Conflict - Journal of Peace Psychology, Vol. 22, No. 4, S. 380-392.