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Psychological Intergroup Interventions: The Motivation Challenge

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NOTE: This talk is on Monday at 11 am !

Social scientists have increasingly applied insights from descriptive research to develop psychological interventions aimed at improving intergroup relations. These interventions have achieved marked success in lab and field studies—reducing prejudicial attitudes and affective polarization, fostering support for conciliatory social policies, and promoting peace-building behaviors. At the same time, intergroup conflict continues to rage in part because individuals often lack motivation to engage with these promising interventions. So far, much time and effort has been devoted to designing effective intervention content that produces psychological change, but less attention has been paid to this “motivational challenge.” We take a step toward addressing this imbalance by developing a conceptual framework of methods by which social scientists can deliver the core content of their intergroup interventions to an unmotivated target audience. Along with (a) directly motivating targets by getting them on board with the intervention’s ultimate aim, researchers can deliver the core intervention content by (b) tapping into other psychological motivations of the target audience, (c) embedding the core content in other attractive features of the intervention unrelated to the conflict, or (d) bypass motivational barriers entirely by delivering the intervention outside of targets’ conscious awareness. We define each method and use illustrative examples to organize them into a conceptual framework, before concluding with implications and future directions.

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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