Official Rejection and Empathetic Interest: Effects on Interest in the Other’s Perspective
History teaching approach had a significant impact on learners’ interest in the other side’s perspective (See Table 1). As Goldberg (2014b, p. 459) shows, repeated-measures ANOVA revealed an interaction effect of time and condition (F(2.163) = 6.33, p = 0.02, η
2 = 0.05). In the conventional single-narrative teaching approach, learners’ interest in the other’s perspective decreased, while in the empathetic dual-narrative condition it increased. In the critical condition, interest in the other’s perspective remained comparatively stable. An interaction effect was also found for time, condition and national group (F(2.163) = 4.79, p = 0.03, η
2 = 0.04). It showed that the effect of approach on interest in the other’s perspective was more pronounced among Arab participants. This may be due to the fact their perspective was not represented in the conventional single-narrative approach, which was based on Israeli official narrative (Goldberg 2014b, p. 460).
These results show that history teaching approach can increase (or decrease) the motivation to take out-group perspectives, an aspect of intergroup empathy be predictive of conflict
resolution (Gehlbach 2004). Empathetic engagement with both in-group and out-group narratives had significant positive effect on minority members, perhaps due to their stronger need for acknowledgment and affirmation (Shnabel et al. 2009). Minority members studying the conventional single (majority) narrative experienced a pronounced decline in interest in the majority perspective, apparently in defensive reaction to the silencing of their voice (Yonah 2008).
Repeated-measures ANOVAs revealed no significant interaction effects of time and condition (or time, condition and national group) on modes of social identification and defense of in-group narratives (F’s(2.173) = 0.08−0.65, p’s > 0.15). None of the teaching approaches caused a significant change in learners’ glorification and attachment modes of social identification or their defense of in-group narratives. Nor did the effects of teaching approaches differ significantly. Thus, we can see that, regardless of teaching method, studying the other’s perspective on a major historical issue in the conflict
did not undermine individuals’ identification with their group (whether in the form of patriotic attachment or chauvinistic glorification). It also showed that general commitment to in-group narrative did not falter due to encounter with out-group narrative.
Accepting Responsibility and Curbing Bias? History Teaching Effects on Perception of In-Group Responsibility
Perceived in-group responsibility (and the frequently accompanying collective guilt) is associated with reconciliatory intergroup attitudes. While the conventional single-narrative approach had no effect on learners’ perception of in-group responsibility, the other two alternative history teaching approaches had contradictory effects on Arab and Jewish learners. In the empathetic dual-narrative approach, perceived in-group responsibility decreased among Jewish and increased among Arab participants. In the critical condition, perceived in-group responsibility increased among Jewish participants, a pronounced difference in direction and degree from the change occurring in the empathetic dual-narrative condition. We should note that change within each condition was not significant (Goldberg 2014b). The effect on Arab participants may show the power of affirmation in answering the needs of a weaker party in a conflict
, as proposed above (Shnabel et al. 2009). However, the inverse effect on Jewish participants is yet to be explained. Nonjudgmental, mutually affirmative exposure to the Palestinian narrative, which stressed Jewish responsibility, should lead Jewish learners to accept, rather than reject, responsibility as it did with their Arab peers.
The comparatively increased acceptance of responsibility by majority members in the critical disciplinary approach contradicts normal assumptions about “confirmation bias,” which should have led participants to reject the information. However, results align with Roccas et al. (2006) and McCully’s (2011) assumptions. It also hints that “impartial” academic practice, as a path for intergroup dialogue, is more accessible to majority members. A finding parallels to Kolikant and Pollack’s (Kolikant and Pollack 2009) work on Jewish
learners’ online dialogue.
What were the factors that facilitated or impeded acceptance of in-group responsibility. A bivariate correlation was computed with all relevant factors, and two factors were found to have a significant correlation with acceptance of responsibility (See Table 2). Learners’ interest in the other side’s perspective was associated with their perception of in-group responsibility. Teaching approach moderated this relation, which was found to be strongest in the empathetic dual-narrative approach and negligible in the critical disciplinary approach (Goldberg 2014a). This may be related to the stress of the empathetic dual-narrative approach on taking the other’s perspective. An undertaking assumed to be highly dependent on individuals’ interest in the other’s perspective.
Teaching approach also moderated the impact of political affiliation on responsibility. In general, political partisanship and polarization cause selective adoption of information and entrenchment, thwarting the effect of engagement with new information or with challenging perspectives (Bar-Tal and Halperin 2011; Bennett and Iyengar 2008). However, looking at the effect of political affiliation on in-group responsibility within each teaching approach, we find wide variations. Following the learning intervention, a more liberal political affiliation was associated with higher perceived in-group responsibility only in the conventional and empathetic conditions (r = 0.60, p < 0.001, r = 0.31, p < 0.05, respectively), while in the critical condition the relation was nonsignificant (r = 0.10, p = 0.48). To ascertain moderation effect, a structural equation modeling AMOS 21 software was used to compare a model, in which the association of political affiliation with perceived responsibility differed across conditions, to a model in which a cross-condition equality constraint was imposed over the regression weights (Kline 2011, p. 286; Rigdon 1998). Bootstrapping was performed over the model using 1000 iterations. The first model showed good fit indices (NFI = 0.98, CFI = 0.99, RMSEA = 0.03), while an alternative model in which critical disciplinary and conventional single-narrative conditions were constrained to be equal gave a significantly lower fit (NFI = 0.77, CFI = 0.72, RMSEA = 0.17; ΔNFI = 0.23, χ2 = 6.91, p < 0.01).
In the conventional teaching approach the effect of political affiliation on acceptance of responsibility increased following learning, while in the critical disciplinary condition it decreased (prior to the learning intervention the relation of political affiliation to responsibility in the conventional condition was r = 0.21, p = 0.14; while in the critical condition r = 0.28, p = 0.04). We may infer that conventional teaching enhances the political bias while the critical approach curbs it.
As we have shown, history teaching approach affected (and moderated the associations of) interest in the other side’s perspective and perceived in-group responsibility, both of which are assumed to promote reconciliatory attitudes. Reconciliatory attitudes should influence intergroup interactions. Consequently, we found teaching approach has indeed affected actual intergroup interaction as represented by Jewish and Arab learners’ deliberation of the conflict’s
history and resolution.
How We Learn and How We Talk: Effects on Intergroup Interaction
Following the first, individual learning study, participants were invited to participate in a follow-up study about the same topic, involving intergroup encounter
and dialogue. Some 130 of the participants of the individual learning study proceeded to engage in dyadic intergroup discussion about the Jewish–Arab conflict. Participants were matched by teaching approach, supplied with the materials they studied in the individual learning study and instructed to discuss and reach joint decisions as to the responsibility and solution for the Palestinian refugee problem. Decisions, or points of disagreement in cases of impasse, were to be recorded in writing, to promote commitment to the task and approximate a negotiation
situation. Discussions were conducted in Hebrew (a language both groups speak and understand but Jews speak considerably more fluently) facilitated and recorded by participants, transcribed and analyzed. For a detailed description of procedure, materials and measures, see Goldberg and Ron (2014) and Goldberg (2014a).
Transcripts were analyzed to track intergroup equality of status or dominance in discussion, a precondition of intergroup encounter
success (Pettigrew 1998) and the general atmosphere of discussion in terms of opposition and collaboration, as a measure of intergroup behavior, rather than simply intergroup attitudes (Pettigrew 2008).
Dominance was analyzed along the lines adopted by Maoz (2001). We analyzed dominance in the use of time and in the control of discussion. For dominance over time, we computed for Jewish and Arab participants in each pair the percentage of their words out of the total number of words uttered in discussion. For control of discussion, we coded all instances in which a participant gave instructions, changed the topic, initiated procedures or asked intrusive questions. Discussion style or atmosphere was analyzed using a shortened version of Bales’ (1976) Interaction Process Analysis to assess discussion style. We coded each discussant’s utterance in relation to the other discussant’s previous utterance as Rejection, Opposition, Compliance or Elaborative agreement. Discussion outcome was assessed on the basis of discussants agreement (or impasse) on a joint answer as to each of the two questions they discussed.
An MANOVA performed over domination of discussion time and control of discussion with teaching approach as between-subjects factor revealed a small multivariate effect for teaching approach (F(6) = 2.48, p = 0.028, η
2 = 0.12) (Goldberg and Ron 2014, p. 14). As Table 3 shows, discussions carried out among participants who studied in the empathetic dual-narrative condition featured a significantly lower Jewish dominance of discussion time than a control and the conventional-authoritative conditions. The critical disciplinary condition featured a significantly lower Jewish dominating behavior in discussion than the control and the conventional-authoritative conditions (Goldberg and Ron 2014). In both cases, it appears the exposure to both sides’ perspectives promoted a more egalitarian discussion atmosphere. A condition considered essential for successful intergroup encounter
This atmosphere apparently led to more collaborative deliberation of the conflict
, both in terms of process and in terms of outcome. The proportion of elaborative (in contrast to oppositional) utterances was higher among groups of learners who studied in the two multi-perspective teaching approaches (see Table 4). Collaborative discussion atmosphere, as indicated by the proportion of agreement to opposition utterances, predicted the frequency of achieving a joint decision on historical responsibility (Estimate(B) = 3.22, β(S.E.) = 1.17 (0.42), Wald = 7.76, p = 0.005). Consequently, critical disciplinary teaching had a significant positive effect on the frequency of joint decisions on historical responsibility. The conventional single-narrative teaching approach had a significantly negative effect on the frequency of finding joint solutions to refugee problem as compared to the critical disciplinary approach and to a control group (Goldberg and Ron 2014; Goldberg in press).
Perceived in-group responsibility (which was affected, as mentioned above, by teaching approach) also promoted more collaborative deliberation
atmosphere. Having calculated each discussants proportion of agreement and opposition utterances, we could check the relation of a discussants perceived in-group responsibility for the harsh outcomes of the conflict
with the acknowledgment of such responsibility in discussion and with out-group peer opposition and agreement in discussion (see Table 5 for means and bivariate correlations). Jewish participants’ acknowledgement of in-group responsibility was inversely correlated with Arab peers’ opposition (r = −0.35, p < 0.01).
Jewish participants’ perceived responsibility was associated with more frequent agreement utterances, and acknowledgment of responsibility among Jewish discussants, which led in turn to more collaborative reactions from Arab participants (see Fig. 1). The relation was not symmetrical (Arab participants did not increase in-group responsibility due to encounter with historical perspectives, nor did they impact Jewish participants collaboration). This actor–partner interaction aligns with the assumptions as to the effect of the stronger party’s acknowledgment of responsibility on weaker party’s reconciliatory attitudes (Shnabel et al. 2009).