Mass-Mediated Intergroup Contact in Post-Conflict Societies: Stories About Intergroup Help Enhance Reconciliation Through Morality

Rupar, M. (Institute of Psychology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic), Graf,  S. (Institute of Psychology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic; University of Bern, Switzerland)

Positive portrayals of intergroup interactions in mass-media (i.e., mass-mediated intergroup contact) improve intergroup relations. Yet, it is unclear which mass-mediated content is most effective in promoting reconciliation in post-conflict societies. Recent evidence suggests that stories about intergroup help provided during an intergroup conflict promote forgiveness. We extend this line of evidence by: (1) examining the effects of group membership of a helper and helpee on reconciliation; (2) investigating moral mechanisms as mediators. In an experimental study in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croat participants (N = 225) read either a story about a Croat helping a Bosniak (ingroup help) or about a Bosniak helping a Croat (outgroup help) during the war between Croats and Bosniaks. Participants who read about ingroup (but not outgroup) help expressed greater forgiveness and greater support for reparatory acts toward Bosniaks. The effects of both ingroup and outgroup help on reconciliation were mediated by moral mechanisms. Intergroup help increased moral elevation, endorsement of universalistic moral values and a moral circle. Greater endorsement of universalistic moral values positively predicted forgiveness, while the greater moral circle predicted support for reparatory acts. Our findings are relevant for interventions aimed at reconciliation in post-conflict societies that employ mass-media.

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