Reducing Israeli-Jewish Pupils’ Outgroup Prejudice with a Mindfulness and Compassion-Based Social-Emotional Program

Abstract

This study evaluated the effectiveness of a newly developed mindfulness and compassion-based social-emotional intervention, Call to Care-Israel (C2C-I), in reducing prejudiced attitudes of Israeli-Jewish youth toward the Israeli-Palestinian outgroup. The C2C-I combines social-cognitive and social-emotional driven mindfulness and compassion practice into one program to create a community of care and cultivate compassion toward the self and others. Three hundred twenty-four Israeli-Jewish 3rd–5th graders (ngirls = 137) from three elementary schools in central Israel were assigned by partial randomization to the C2C-I intervention (nC2CI = 175) or a wait-list control group. Outgroup prejudice was assessed by three measures—stereotyping, affective prejudice, and readiness for social contact—at pre- and post-intervention, as well as at a 6-month follow-up. Results showed that, compared to control group participants, those in the C2C-I intervention significantly reduced affective prejudice toward and negative stereotyping about the Israeli-Palestinian outgroup, while simultaneously increasing their readiness to engage in social contact with Israeli-Palestinian youth. Importantly, the significant effects found in the C2C-I group were maintained at the 6-month follow-up—a period that involved a violent escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—while further deterioration in intergroup attitudes emerged for the control group. High effect sizes for group differences in all prejudice measures emerged, further highlighting the robust impact of the C2C-I program. These results have significant implications for implementing C2C-I mindfulness and compassion-based practices in order to promote positive intergroup relations in areas characterized by ethnic tension and violent conflict.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Aboud, F. E. (2008). A social-cognitive developmental theory of prejudice. In S. M. Quintana & C. McKown (Eds.), Handbook of race, racism, and the developing child (pp. 55–71). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Abrams, D. (2011). Wherein lies children’s intergroup bias? Egocentrism, social understanding and social projection. Child Development, 82, 1579–1593. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01617.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading: Addison-Wesley.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bar-Tal, D., & Teichman, Y. (2005). Stereotypes and prejudice in conflict: representations of Arabs in Israeli Jewish society. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  5. Beaumont, P. (2015). Is a third Palestinian intifada on the way—or has it already begun? https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/05/third-palestinian-intifada-on-way-or-already-begun

  6. Beelmann, A., & Heinemann, K. S. (2014). Preventing prejudice and improving intergroup attitudes: a meta-analysis of child and adolescent training programs. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 35, 10–24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2014.06.005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Berger, R. (2014). The ERASE-STRESS (ES) programmes: teacher-delivered universal school-based programmes in the aftermath of disasters. In D. Mitchell & V. Karr (Eds.), Crises, conflict and disability: ensuring equality (pp. 96–104). New York: Routledge.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  8. Berger, R., Abu-Raiya, H., & Gelkopf, M. (2015). The art of living together: reducing stereotyping and prejudicial attitudes through the Arab-Jewish class exchange program (CEP). Journal of Educational Psychology, 107, 678–688. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000015.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Berger, R., Benatov, J., Abu-Raiya, H., & Tadmor, C. T. (2016a). Reducing prejudice and promoting positive intergroup attitudes among elementary-school children in the context of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Journal of School Psychology, 57, 53–72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2016.04.003.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Berger, R., Gelkopf, M., Heineberg, Y., & Zimbardo, P. (2016b). A school-based intervention for reducing posttraumatic symptomatology and intolerance during political violence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108, 761–771. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000066.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Bigler, R. S., & Liben, L. S. (2007). Developmental intergroup theory: explaining and reducing children’s social stereotyping and prejudice. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16, 162–166. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2007.00496.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., Sefal, Z. V., Abbey, S., Speca, M., Velting, D., & Devins, G. (2004). Mindfulness: a proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 230–241. https://doi.org/10.1093/clipsy.bph077.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Brach, T. (2004). Radical acceptance: embracing your life with the heart of a Buddha. New York: Bantam Books.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Brenick, A., & Killen, M. (2014). Moral judgments about Jewish-Arab intergroup exclusion: the role of culture and contact. Developmental Psychology, 50, 86–99. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034702.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Brenick, A., & Romano, K. (2016). Perceived peer and parent outgroup norms, cultural identity, and adolescents’ reasoning about peer intergroup exclusion. Child Development, 87, 1392–1408. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12594.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Brenick, A., Lee-Kim, J., Killen, M., Fox, N. A., Raviv, A., & Leavitt, L. A. (2007). Social judgments in Israeli and Arab children: Findings from media-based intervention projects. In D. Lemish & M. Götz (Eds.), Children and media at times of conflict and war (pp. 287–308). Cresskill: Hampton Press.

  17. Brenick, A., Killen, M., Lee-Kim, J., Fox, N., Leavitt, L., Raviv, A., et al. (2010). Social understanding in young Israeli-Jewish, Israeli-Palestinian, Palestinian, and Jordanian children: moral judgments and stereotypes. Early Education and Development, 21, 886–911.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Brown, R. (2010). Prejudice: its social psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822–848. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Christ, O., & Wagner, U. (2013). Methodological issues in the study of intergroup contact: towards a new wave of research. In G. Hodson & M. Hewstone (Eds.), Advances in intergroup contact (pp. 262–305). New York: Psychology Press.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Condon, P., Desbordes, G., Miller, W. B., & DeSteno, D. (2013). Meditation increases compassionate responses to suffering. Psychological Science, 24, 2125–2127. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613485603.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Dalai Lama, T. G., & Ekman, P. (2008). Emotional awareness: overcoming the obstacles to psychological balance and compassion: a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Paul Ekman. New York: Times Books/Henry Holt and Co..

    Google Scholar 

  24. Dodson-Lavelle, B., Berger, R., Makransky, J., & Siegle, P. (2014). Call to Care: educators’ professional development guide, (1st edition), Amherst: Mind and Life Institute.

  25. Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L., & Davidson, R. J. (2015). Promoting prosocial behavior and self-regulatory skills in preschool children through a mindfulness-based kindness curriculum. Developmental Psychology, 51, 44–51. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038256.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218–226. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.56.3.218.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Gilbert, P. (2010). An introduction to compassion focused therapy in cognitive behavior therapy. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, 3(2), 97–112. https://doi.org/10.1521/ijct.2010.3.2.97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Hutcherson, C. A., Seppala, E. M., & Gross, J. J. (2008). Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness. Emotion, 8, 720–724. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013237.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Inzlicht, M., Tullett, A. M., Legault, L., & Kang, S. K. (2011). Lingering effects: stereotype threat hurts more than you think. Social Issues And Policy Review, 5(1), 227–256. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-2409.2011.01031.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144–156. https://doi.org/10.1093/clipsy/bpg016.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Kaminsky, M., & Bar-Tal, D. (1996). Stereotypic perceptions of different Israeli-Arab labels as a function of age and religiosity. Studies in Education, 1, 121–157.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Kang, Y., Gray, J. R., & Dovidio, J. F. (2014). The nondiscriminating heart: lovingkindness meditation training decreases implicit intergroup bias. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(3), 1306–1313.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Killen, M., & Rutland, A. (2011). Children and social exclusion: morality, prejudice, and group identity. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444396317.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  34. Lavelle Heineberg, B. D. (2016). Promoting caring: mindfulness- and compassion-based contemplative training for educators and students. In K. A. Schonert-Reichl & R. W. Roeser (Eds.), Handbook of mindfulness in education: integrating theory and research into practice (pp. 285–294). New York: Springer-Verlag Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-3506-2_18.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  35. Lemmer, G., & Wagner, U. (2015). Can we really reduce ethnic prejudice outside the lab? A meta-analysis of direct and indirect contact interventions. European Journal of Social Psychology, 45(2), 152–168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Lim, D., Condon, P., & Desteno, D. (2015). Mindfulness and compassion: an examination of mechanism and scalability. PLoS One, 10(2), e0118221. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0118221.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  37. Lueke, A., & Gibson, B. (2015). Mindfulness meditation reduces implicit age and race bias: the role of reduced automaticity of responding. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6(3), 284–291. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550614559651.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Lueke, A., & Gibson, B. (2016). Brief mindfulness meditation reduces discrimination. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, And Practice, 3(1), 34–44. https://doi.org/10.1037/cns0000081.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Makransky, J. (2007). Awakening through love: a Buddhist guide for unveiling deepest goodness. Boston: Wisdom Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Maoz, I. (2011). Contact in protracted asymmetrical conflict: twenty years of planned encounters between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Journal of Peace Research, 48(1), 115–152.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Nelson, D. W. (2009). Feeling good and open-minded: the impact of positive affect on cross cultural empathic responding. Journal Of Positive Psychology, 4(1), 53–63. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760802357859.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Parks, S., Birtel, M. D., & Crisp, R. J. (2014). Evidence that a brief meditation exercise can reduce prejudice toward homeless people. Social Psychology, 45(6), 458–465. https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000212.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Pettigrew, T., & Tropp, L. (2008). How does intergroup contact reduce prejudice? Meta-analytic tests of three mediators. European Journal of Social Psychology, 38(6), 922–934. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.504.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Raabe, T., & Beelmann, A. (2011). Development of ethnic, racial, and national prejudice in childhood and adolescence: a multinational meta-analysis of age differences. Child Development, 82(6), 1715–1737. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01668.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. Ramsey, A. T., & Jones, E. E. (2015). Minding the interpersonal gap: mindfulness-based interventions in the prevention of ostracism. Consciousness and Cognition: An International Journal, 31, 24–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2014.10.003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Rutland, A., & Killen, M. (2015). A developmental science approach to reducing prejudice and social exclusion: intergroup processes, social-cognitive development, and moral reasoning. Social Issues and Policy Review, 9(1), 121–154. https://doi.org/10.1111/sipr.12012.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Safran, J. D., & Segal, Z. V. (1990). Interpersonal process in cognitive therapy. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Salomon, G. (2006). Does peace education really make a difference? Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 12(1), 37–48. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327949pac1201_3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Salzberg, S. (2002). Loving-kindness: the revolutionary art of happiness. Boston: Shambhala.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Schachner, M. K., Brenick, A., Heizmann, B., Van de Vijver, F. J. R., & Noack, P. (2015). Structural and normative conditions for interethnic friendships in multiethnic classrooms. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 47, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2015.02.003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Schmitt, M. T., Branscombe, N. R., Postmes, T., & Garcia, A. (2014). The consequences of perceived discrimination for psychological well-being: a meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 140, 921–948.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Oberlander, T. F., & Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing cognitive and social-emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: a randomized controlled trial. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 52–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Shapiro, S. L., & Carlson, L. E. (2009). The art and science of mindfulness: integrating mindfulness into psychology and the helping professions. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  54. Shwed, U., Shavit, Y., Dellashi, M., & Ofek, M. (2014). Integration of Arab Israelis and Jews in schools in Israel. Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel. Retrieved from: http://taubcenter.org.il/integration-of-arabisraelis-and-jews-in-schools-in-israel.

  55. Teichman, Y., Bar-Tal, D., & Abdolrazeq, Y. (2007). Intergroup biases in conflict: reexamination with Arab pre-adolescents and adolescents. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 31(5), 423–432.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Tirch, D. D., Silberstein, L. R., & Kolts, R. L. (2016). Buddhist psychology and cognitive-behavioral therapy: a clinician’s guide. New York: The Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Titzmann, P. F., Brenick, A., & Silbereisen, R. K. (2015). Friendships fighting prejudice: a longitudinal perspective on adolescents’ cross-group friendships with immigrants. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 44, 1318–1331. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-015-0256-6.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  58. Wallace, B. A., & Shapiro, S. L. (2006). Mental balance and wellbeing: building bridges between Buddhism and Western psychology. American Psychologist, 61, 690–701. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.61.7.690.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  59. Weare, K. (2013). Developing mindfulness with children and young people: a review of the evidence and policy context. Journal of Children’s Services, 8(2), 141–153.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

RB: designed and executed the study, trained the facilitators, managed the data collection, and collaborated with the writing of the manuscript. AB: assisted in the conceptualization of the study, analyzed the data, and collaborated with the writing of the manuscript. RT: designed and executed the study, assisted with data collection, analyzed the data, wrote part of the methods and results, and collaborated with the editing of the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alaina Brenick.

Ethics declarations

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Electronic Supplementary Material

ESM 1

(PDF 62 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Berger, R., Brenick, A. & Tarrasch, R. Reducing Israeli-Jewish Pupils’ Outgroup Prejudice with a Mindfulness and Compassion-Based Social-Emotional Program. Mindfulness 9, 1768–1779 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0919-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Call to Care-Israel
  • Compassion
  • Intergroup contact
  • Mindfulness
  • Prejudice reduction
  • Protracted ethnic conflict