Orosz, G., Bruneau, E., Tropp, L., Sebestyen, N., Toth-Kiraly, I., Bothe, B. (In Press) What Predicts Anti-Roma Prejudice? Qualitative and quantitative analysis of everyday sentiments about the Roma. Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

Bruneau, E., Jacoby, N., Kteily, N., & Saxe, R. (In Press) Denying humanity: The distinct neural correlates of blatant dehumanization. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.


Bruneau, E., Kteily, N., & Laustsen, L. (2017). The unique effects of blatant dehumanization on attitudes and behavior towards Muslim refugees during the European 'Refugee Crisis' across four countries. European Journal of Social Psychology.

Bruneau, E., Kteily, N., Falk, E. (2017). Interventions highlighting hypocrisy reduce collective blame of Muslims for individual acts of violence and assuage anti-Muslim hostility. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin44(3), 430–448.

You can read more about this research in the Pacific Standard, Vox, and Penn Today, as well as in the SPSP Character and Context Blog.

Kteily, N, Bruneau, E. (2017). Darker Demons of our Nature: The Need to (Re-)Focus Attention on Blatant Forms of DehumanizationCurrent Directions in Psychological Science26(6), 487–494.

Bruneau EG, Cikara M, Saxe R. (2017). Parochial empathy predicts reduced altruism and the endorsement of passive harm. Social Psychological and Personality Science8(8), 934-942.

Bruneau EG, Lane D, Saleem M. (2017). Giving the underdog a leg up: A counternarrative of nonviolent resistance improves sustained  third-party support of a disempowered groupSocial Psychological and Personality Science, 8(7), 746–757.

Bruneau, E., & Kteily, N. (2017). The enemy as animal: Symmetric dehumanization during asymmetric warfare. PloS One, 12(7), e0181422.

Kteily, N.*, & Bruneau, E.* (2017). Backlash: The Politics and Real-World Consequences of Minority Group DehumanizationPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43(1), 87-104. [*equal contribution]


Kteily, N., Hodson, G., & Bruneau, E. (2016). They see us as less than human: Metadehumanization predicts intergroup conflict via reciprocal dehumanizationJournal of Personality and Social Psychology, 110(3), 343.

Jacoby, N., Bruneau, E., Koster-Hale, J., & Saxe, R. (2016). Localizing Pain Matrix and Theory of Mind networks with both verbal and non-verbal stimuliNeuroImage, 126, 39-48.


Kteily, N.*, Bruneau, E.*, Waytz, A., & Cotterill, S. (2015). The Ascent of Man: Theoretical and Empirical Evidence for Blatant DehumanizationJournal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109(5), 901. [*equal contribution]

Bruneau, E., Jacoby, N., & Saxe, R. (2015). Empathic control through coordinated interaction of amygdala, theory of mind and extended pain matrix brain regionsNeuroimage, 114, 105-119.

Bruneau, E. (2015). Putting Neuroscience to Work for Peace. The social psychology of intractable conflicts: The Israeli-Palestinian case and beyond, A tribute to the legacy of Daniel Bar-Tal (eds.) Keren Sharvit and Eran Halperin.

Bruneau, E., Cikara, M., & Saxe, R. (2015). Minding the Gap: Narrative Descriptions about Mental States Attenuate Parochial EmpathyPloS One, 10(10), e0140838.


Cikara, M., Bruneau, E., Van Bavel, J., & Saxe, R. (2014). Their pain gives us pleasure: How intergroup dynamics shape empathic failures and counter-empathic responsesJournal of Experimental Social Psychology, 55, 110-125.


Bruneau, E., & Saxe, R. (2012). The power of being heard: The benefits of ‘perspective-giving’ in the context of intergroup conflictJournal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Abstract: Although hundreds of dialogue programs geared towards conflict resolution are offered every year, there have been few scientific studies of their effectiveness. Across 2 studies we examined the effect of controlled, dyadic interactions on attitudes towards the ‘other’ in members of groups involved in ideological conflict. Study 1 involved Mexican immigrants and White Americans in Arizona, and Study 2 involved Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East. Cross-group dyads interacted via video and text in a brief, structured, face-to-face exchange: one person was assigned to write about the difficulties of life in their society (‘perspective-giving’), and the second person was assigned to accurately summarize the statement of the first person (‘perspective-taking’). Positive changes in attitudes towards the outgroup were greater for Mexican immigrants and Palestinians after perspective-giving and for White Americans and Israelis after perspective-taking. For Palestinians, perspective-giving to an Israeli effectively changed attitudes towards Israelis, while a control condition in which they wrote an essay on the same topic without interacting had no effect on attitudes, illustrating the critical role of being heard. Thus, the effects of dialogue for conflict resolution depend on an interaction between dialogue condition and participants' group membership, which may reflect power asymmetries.

Bruneau, E., Pluta, A., & Saxe, R. (2012). Distinct roles of the ‘Shared Pain’ and ‘Theory of Mind’ networks in processing others’ emotional sufferingNeuropsychologia, 50(2), 219-231. 

Abstract: The brain mechanisms involved in processing another's physical pain have been extensively studied in recent years. The link between understanding others’ physical pain and emotional suffering is less well understood. Using whole brain analysis and two separate functional localizers, we characterized the neural response profiles of narrative scenarios involving physical pain (PP), and scenarios involving emotional pain (EP) with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Whole brain analyses revealed that PP narratives activated the Shared Pain network, and that the brain regions responsible for processing EP overlapped substantially with brain regions involved in Theory of Mind. Region of interest (ROI) analysis provided a finer-grained view. Some regions responded to stories involving physical states, regardless of painful content (secondary sensory regions), some selectively responded to both emotionally and physically painful events (bilateral anterior thalamus and anterior middle cingulate cortex), one brain region responded selectively to physical pain (left insula), and one brain region responded selectively to emotional pain (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex). These results replicated in two groups of participants given different explicit tasks. Together, these results clarify the distinct roles of multiple brain regions in responding to others who are in physical or emotional pain.

Bruneau, E., Dufour, N., & Saxe, R. (2012). Social cognition in members of conflict groups: behavioural and neural responses in Arabs, Israelis and South Americans to each other’s misfortunesPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society – Biology, 367, 717-730. 

Abstract: In contexts of cultural conflict, people delegitimize the other group's perspective and lose compassion for the other group's suffering. These psychological biases have been empirically characterized in intergroup settings, but rarely in groups involved in active conflict. Similarly, the basic brain networks involved in recognizing others' narratives and misfortunes have been identified, but how these brain networks are modulated by intergroup conflict is largely untested. In the present study, we examined behavioural and neural responses in Arab, Israeli and South American participants while they considered the pain and suffering of individuals from each group. Arabs and Israelis reported feeling significantly less compassion for each other's pain and suffering (the ‘conflict outgroup’), but did not show an ingroup bias relative to South Americans (the ‘distant outgroup’). In contrast, the brain regions that respond to others' tragedies showed an ingroup bias relative to the distant outgroup but not the conflict outgroup, particularly for descriptions of emotional suffering. Over all, neural responses to conflict group members were qualitatively different from neural responses to distant group members. This is the first neuroimaging study to examine brain responses to others' suffering across both distant and conflict groups, and provides a first step towards building a foundation for the biological basis of conflict.


Cikara, M., Bruneau, E.G., & Saxe, R.R. (2011). Us and them intergroup failures of empathy. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(3), 149-153.  

Abstract: People are often motivated to increase others' positive experiences and to alleviate others' suffering. These tendencies to care about and help one another form the foundation of human society. When the target is an outgroup member, however, people may have powerful motivations not to care about or help that “other.” In such cases, empathic responses are rare and fragile; it is easy to disrupt the chain from perception of suffering to motivation to alleviate the suffering to actual helping. We highlight recent interdisciplinary research demonstrating that outgroup members' suffering elicits dampened empathic responses as compared to ingroup members' suffering. We consider an alternative to empathy in the context of intergroup competition: schadenfreude—pleasure at others' pain. Finally, we review recent investigations of intergroup-conflict interventions that attempt to increase empathy for outgroups. We propose that researchers across the range of psychological sciences stand to gain a better understanding of the foundations of empathy by studying its limitations.


Bruneau, E., & Saxe, R. (2010). Attitudes towards the outgroup are predicted by activity in the precuneus in Arabs and IsraelisNeuroimage, 52(4), 1704-1711.

Abstract: The modern socio-political climate is defined by conflict between ethnic, religious and political groups: Bosnians and Serbs, Tamils and Singhalese, Irish Catholics and Protestants, Israelis and Arabs. One impediment to the resolution of these conflicts is the psychological bias that members of each group harbor towards each other. These biases, and their neural bases, are likely different from the commonly studied biases towards racial outgroups. We presented Arab, Israeli and control individuals with statements about the Middle East from the perspective of the ingroup or the outgroup. Subjects rated how ‘reasonable’ each statement was, during fMRI imaging. Increased activation in the precuneus (PC) while reading pro-outgroup vs. pro-ingroup statements correlated strongly with both explicit and implicit measures of negative attitudes towards the outgroup; other brain regions that were involved in reasoning about emotionally-laden information did not show this pattern.


Bruneau EG (2012) Ingroup/Outgroup Distinctions – Neuroscience Findings and Upshot. White Volume: National Security Challenges: Insights from Social, Neurobiological and Complexity Sciences. 154-164. 

Bruneau EG, Saxe R. (2011) Identifying, Measuring and Regulating the Psychological Biases that Contribute to Political Violence.


Bruneau EG, Akaaboune M. Dynamics of the Rapsyn Scaffolding Protein at the Neuromuscular Junction of Live Mice (2010). Journal of Neuroscience. 13;30(2):614-9.

Bruneau EG, Esteban JA, Akaaboune M. Receptor-Associated Proteins and Synaptic Plasticity. Review (2009). Review. FASEB Journal. 23(3):679-88.

Bruneau EG, Brenner DI, Kuwada J, Akaaboune M. Acetylcholine Receptors are Necessary for the Maintenance of the Post-Synaptic Scaffold (2008). Current Biology. 22;18(2):109-15.

Bruneau EG, Akaaboune M. Dynamics of the Acetylcholine Receptor Associated Protein, Rapsyn (2007)Journal of Biological Chemistry. 282(13):9932-40.

Bruneau EG, Akaaboune M. Dynamic Cycling of Acetylcholine Receptors at the Neuromuscular Junction of Live Animals (2006). Development. 133(22):4485-93.

Bruneau EG, Akaaboune M. Running to Stand Still: Ionotropic Receptor Dynamics in Central and Peripheral Synapses (2006). Review. Molecular Neurobiology. 34(2):137-152.

Bruneau EG, Macpherson PC, Goldman D, Hume RI, Akaaboune M. The Effect of Agrin and Laminin on Acetylcholine Receptor Dynamics In Vitro (2005). Developmental Biology. 288(1):248-58.

Bruneau E, Sutter D, Hume RI, Akaaboune M. Identification of Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Recycling and its Role in Maintaining Receptor Density at the Neuromuscular Junction In Vivo (2005). Journal of Neuroscience. 25(43):9949-59.

Bruneau EG, McCullumsmith RE, Haroutunian V, Davis KL, Meador-Woodruff JH. Increased Expression of Glutaminase and Glutamine Synthetase mRNA in the Thalamus in Schizophrenia (2005). Schizophrenia Research. 75(1):27-34.

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.