Normative beliefs supporting aggression of Arab children in an intergroup conflict

Zipora Shechtman, Ola Basheer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Based on the social knowledge theory (Heusmann), this study investigated normative beliefs supporting aggression (NOBAG), empathy, and intergroup anxiety of Arab children in Israel. The study proposed that ethnicity of the target person (within subject variable) and participant's sex (between subject variable) will differ between respondents' level of NOBAG and empathy: Higher NOBAG and lower empathy toward an outgroup member were expected. Sex differences were expected on all variables, as well as intercorrelations among them. Measures included the Revised Normative Beliefs Measure (NOBAG: general and specific), The Index of Empathy for Children and Adolescents (general and specific), and the Intergroup Anxiety Scale. The study population included 186 elementary-school children from two Arab schools in Israel. Results indicated that all participants support an aggressive reaction to a child of an outgroup more than to one of their own group and exhibit a greater degree of empathy toward the latter. Sex differences were found on all variables except on specific NOBAG. Correlation coefficients suggest sex differences in relations between variables. Results of a Logistic regression for the prediction of NOBAG toward ingroup/outgroup person indicated that empathy toward Jews predicted NOBAG in both sexes while intergroup anxiety predicted NOBAG in a different way for boys and girls. The discussion refers to the need for peace education to reduce anxiety and promote empathy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)324-335
    Number of pages12
    JournalAggressive Behavior
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Jul 2005


    • Aggression
    • Empathy
    • Intergroup anxiety
    • Israeli Arabs
    • Normative beliefs

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • General Psychology


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