Contact Intervention Programs for Peace Education and the Reality of Dynamic Conflicts
by Yaacov Boaz Yablon — 2007
Great efforts are made to develop and implement contact activities for groups in conflict, yet studies of effects of planned contact interventions yielded mixed results. Previous attempts to explain why contact interventions do not fulfill their promise focused on the contact itself. However, the main focus of the present study was the underlying prevention strategy and the implementation of contact interventions. This was done in the context of planned face-to-face encounters between Jewish and Arab high school students in Israel.
Purpose of Study:
The aim of this study was to examine whether there is a unique embodiment of a social conflict in different subgroups of one prototypical social group. It has been suggested that one of the reasons for the failure of contact intervention programs is that they are usually based on a primary prevention strategy, which does not consider intragroup differences or developments over time.
The research sample consisted of 255 Israeli Jewish and Israeli Arab students who intended to participate in a peace education encounter program. Participants in the study were 17-year-old 11th-grade students from 12 classes—6 in Jewish high schools and 6 in Arab high schools.
Quantitative analysis was used to measure differences within and between groups at the onset of a contact intervention program. Data were collected at three waves (three different points in time). Each wave was held for a few days, usually within a week, before the onset of the planned encounters. In each wave, two schools, one Jewish and one Arab, were sampled. The waves were 2 months apart, so that all questionnaires were collected within a 6-month period.
Results revealed significant differences within the subgroups in the perceptional and affective domains but not in variables indicating behavioral aspects of social relationships. Additional findings regarding differences between groups (majority and minority) suggested that the majority group was less negative toward the minority group than the minority group was toward the majority.
Results suggest that although mutual relationships between groups are negatively based, they are neither stable nor monolithic. Within a social group, different subgroups hold and present different attitudes, perceptions, and feelings toward their counterparts. Therefore, peace education programs, and especially face-to-face contact intervention, should be based on secondary intervention strategies and not, as is often the case, on primary prevention strategies.
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