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Befriending the enemy: Outgroup friendship longitudinally predicts intergroup attitudes in a coexistence program for Israelis and Palestinians


One of the largest Middle East coexistence programs annually brings together Israeli and Palestinian teenagers for a 3-week camp in the United States. For 3 years, we longitudinally tracked how this intervention affected Israelis’ and Palestinians’ relationships with, and attitudes toward, each other. Specifically, we measured participants’ outgroup attitudes immediately before and after camp, and, for 2 years, 9 months following “reentry” to their home countries. In all 3 years, participants’ attitudes toward the outgroup improved from precamp to postcamp. Participants who formed an outgroup friendship during camp developed more positive feelings toward outgroup campers, which generalized to an increase in positivity toward all outgroup members. Although the positivity faded upon campers’ reentry, there was significant residual positivity after reentry compared to precamp. Finally, positivity toward the outgroup after reentry was also predicted by outgroup friendships. Future contact interventions may profit from encouraging individuals to make and maintain outgroup friendships.

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