News Archive

The Good and Bad of Empathy

New insights into the underpinnings of empathy might help us harness the emotion—just when we need
Author: Date: Nov 17, 2017

A Conversation With Nour Kteily and Emile Bruneau

What led you into this line of research?  What types of methods/tools have you used to
Author: Date: Nov 1, 2017

Emile Bruneau: Tweaking the Empathy Gap

A brief clip in which Emile discusses his postdoctoral work at Rebecca Saxe's lab at the McGovern Institute for
Author: Date: Nov 23, 2015

Collectively blaming groups for the actions of individuals can license vicarious retribution. Acts of terrorism by Muslim
extremists against innocents, and the spikes in anti-Muslim hate crimes against innocent Muslims that follow, suggest that
reciprocal bouts of collective blame can spark cycles of violence. How can this cycle be short-circuited? After establishing a
link between collective blame of Muslims and anti-Muslim attitudes and behavior, we used an “interventions tournament” to
identify a successful intervention (among many that failed). The “winning” intervention reduced collective blame of Muslims
by highlighting hypocrisy in the ways individuals collectively blame Muslims—but not other groups (White Americans,
Christians)—for individual group members’ actions. After replicating the effect in an independent sample, we demonstrate
that a novel interactive activity that isolates the psychological mechanism amplifies the effectiveness of the collective blame
hypocrisy intervention and results in downstream reductions in anti-Muslim attitudes and anti-Muslim behavior.