Intergroup Avoidance: Observational and Experimental Evidence from Israel (in cooperation with Alexandra Siegel (University of Colorado Boulder), Chagai Weiss (Stanford University)

Note long: 
Zoom link can be requested at
31.10.2022 - 11:00 to 12:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231 and online via Zoom
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Alexandra Scacco, Ph.D.
Lecturer affiliation: 
Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin

A large (and growing) literature suggests that intergroup prejudice is driven at least in part by informational deficits. Common arguments suggest that providing in-group members with accurate information about out-groups may help correct misperceptions, facilitate perspective-taking, and in turn reduce prejudice. In this paper, we employ a range of empirical strategies to critically evaluate the role that online information, particularly when conveyed through social media, plays in intergroup relations in Israel, and reach less optimistic conclusions.


We first use observational data from Facebook to show that, in contrast to Palestinians, who frequently use the platform to discuss issues relating to the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israelis rarely engage with these topics online. Second, through a Facebook-embedded field experiment, we test the effects of exposing Israelis – in a naturalistic setting – to news about the Palestinians’ daily lives in East Jerusalem. We find that this exposure does not affect intergroup attitudes and, if anything, modestly decreases engagement with outgroup social media content. Third, we use a set of survey-embedded behavioral exercises to provide additional evidence of “intergroup avoidance” on the part of Israelis, and suggest that pessimism about the future of intergroup relations and mistrust of out-group sources and argumentation are primarily responsible for this avoidance. Finally, drawing on these findings, we present the design of a survey experiment to test different strategies to encourage constructive Israeli engagement with online content about their Palestinian neighbors.