Social Science


Explicit and Implicit Evaluation of Pain Experienced by Ingroup and Outgroup Members: the Case of the Jewish-Arab Conflict

Authors: Ramzi Suleiman, Reem Yahya, Jean Decety, Simone Shamay-Tsoory

Despite the automaticity of empathy for pain of others, recent research highlights the important role of top-down components and of social categorization factors in determining peoples’ empathy to pain. 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 in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To meet this aim, we assessed perceived pain when Jewish and Arab participants viewed a series of visual stimuli, depicting painful and non-painful familiar situations. The stimuli were associated with explicitly or subliminally implicitly primed typical names depicting ingroup, neutral outgroup, and adversary outgroup members. Results demonstrate that when the targets’ categories are primed implicitly, Jews and Palestinian-Arabs showed no ingroup or ougroup bias. In contrast, pain ratings in the explicit priming provide support for the ingroup empathy hypothesis, positing that empathy to pain is higher for ingroup, than for outgroup members.

Comments: 16 Pages.

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Submission history

[v1] 2014-11-07 15:50:14

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