Retracting the claws of conflict: Interventions to reduce intergroup hostility

Mar 13, 2018
04:45 PM to 06:15 PM
124 Sparks Building

Dr. Emile Bruneau, University of Pennsylvania

In this talk, Emile Bruneau will present discouraging evidence demonstrating the prevalence, virulence and real-world consequence of dehumanization and collective blame in intergroup contexts. He will then present the encouraging evidence for novel intervention strategies that can markedly and durably reduce dehumanization and collective blame, which have downstream impacts on intergroup policy preferences and behaviors.

Emile Bruneau is a research associate and lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication and director of the Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab. Bruneau is also the lead scientist at the Beyond Conflict Innovation Lab. Prior to his formal training in neuroscience, Bruneau worked, traveled, and lived in a number of conflict regions: South Africa during the transition from Apartheid to Democracy, Sri Lanka during one of the largest Tamil Tiger strikes in that nation's history, Ireland during "The Troubles," Israel/Palestine around the Second Intifada.

Bruneau is now working to bring the tools of science to bear on the problem of intergroup conflict by (1) building methods to better characterize the (often unconscious) cognitive biases that drive conflict using explicit, implicit and functional neuroimaging (fMRI) techniques, and (2) critically evaluating efforts aimed at transcending these biases. These efforts have focused on three psychological processes relevant to intergroup conflict: empathy, dehumanization, and motivated reasoning, and involve target groups that are embroiled in intractable conflict (e.g., Israelis and Palestinians), or subject to extreme hostility (e.g., Muslims in the U.S., the Roma in Europe).


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