Parochial Empathy Predicts Reduced Altruism and the Endorsement of Passive Harm

Empathic failures are common in hostile intergroup contexts; repairing empathy is therefore a major focus of peacebuilding efforts. However, it is unclear which aspect of empathy is most relevant to intergroup conflict.Although trait empathic concern predicts prosociality in interpersonal settings, we hypothesized that the best predictor of meaningful intergroup attitudes and behaviors might not be the general capacity for empathy (i.e., trait empathy), but the difference in empathy felt for the in-group versus the out-group, or “parochial empathy.”  Full article here.

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.