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Can we forgive a militant outgroup member? The role of perspective‐taking


Asian Journal of Social PsychologyJournal abstract
Whereas previous research has commonly studied the effects of perspective‐taking for harmless targets, we examined whether the effect of perspective‐taking might extend to a violent outgroup target. That is, our target not only held members of the adversary group responsible for his plight but also issued a severe threat to them (suicide bombing). We report findings from two studies that were conducted within the intergroup relations between Israelis and Palestinians, defined by a prolonged and violent conflict. Study 1 found that perspective‐taking with a radicalised and threatening Palestinian target could successfully be induced among Israeli participants and, as a result, led to their improved motivation to forgive the target. Study 2 directly manipulated threat in addition to perspective‐taking. Irrespective of the presence of threat, perspective‐taking led to improved motivation to forgive the target as well as to increase interpersonal liking for the target. Increased liking fully mediated the effect of perspective‐taking on forgiveness. Theoretical and practical implications of this research are discussed.

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