Despite the automaticity of affective sharing, many studies have documented the role of top-down effects, such as social categorization, on people’s empathic responses. An important question, largely ignored in previous research, concerns empathy to ingroup and outgroup members’ pain in the contexts of ongoing intergroup conflict. In the present study we examined how implicit and explicit ethnic social categorization of others affects empathy to pain in the context of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. To meet this aim, we assessed the evaluation of pain by Jewish and Arab participants who viewed a series of visual stimuli depicting painful and non-painful familiar situations. The stimuli were associated with explicitly or implicitly primed typical names depicting ingroup, neutral outgroup, and adversary outgroup members. Results demonstrate that pain ratings in the explicit priming condition provide support for the ingroup empathy hypothesis, positing that empathy is higher for ingroup than for outgroup members for both Jews and Palestinian Arabs. Conversely, when the targets’ categories are primed implicitly, results revealed difference in empathy by the two ethnic groups where an ingroup bias was detected only for Palestinian Arabs. This suggests that the activation of ingroup bias on the subliminal implicit level among Palestinian Arab participants might be mediated by the amount of conflict permeating in their daily lives and by deeply rooted cultural values and behavioural patterns.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding Funding was provided by United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (IL) (Grant No. Proposal 2009251).
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
- Ingroup bias
- Intergroup conflict
- Outgroup discrimination
- Social categorization
- Social identity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology