Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Psychology of Peace

Today we stopped by the Center for Applied Research and examined the results of a recent study on racism in Israel. The purpose of the study was mainly for monitoring levels of explicit discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping, as well as negative overall attitudes towards palestinians living within israel. I will be examining these results in more detail in order to look for any hidden variables, but judging from the information I was presented with, it seems like a pretty solid study.

Perhaps most striking about the study is that it was a survey of explicit measures, meaning the researchers contacted a sample size of 500 israelis and asked them explicit questions on their feelings towards arabs living within israel. I should note here that the researchers who actually designed and conducted the study were Israeli research contractors-- the same people whom the government contacts to conduct their research-- which generally eliminates any researcher bias.

Questions ranged from “How comfortable would you feel living in the same apartment building as an arab israeli family” to “what emotions, if any, do you feel when you hear arabic” to “on a scale from 1 to 5, how much do you agree with the following statement:  it should be considered treason for an israeli woman to marry a palestinian man”

The results were striking. Typically with such explicit studies, the numbers tend to be lower, just because people tend to not like explicitly expressing any biased views. But in this study the numbers were unusually high, including a statistic that showed about 70% of the sample would refuse to live in the same building as palestinian family.

I would be interested in studying the level of implicit discrimination and prejudice held both by Israeli youth against palestinians, as well as the level of implicit prejudice palestinian youth have against themselves. My hunch is that, because they are educated under the Israeli educational system (though in separate institutions than Israeli Jews) with texts that often portray arabs in a negative light, as well as living within a community that views arabs as violent or evil, their reflexive attitudes will be negative. This phenomenon is seen with black americans, whose implicit attitudes towards their own racial group tend to be negative (due to the negative image of black americans in society).

I'd also like to study the palestinians implicit and explicit attitudes toward israelis, perhaps using the same survey that the center for applied research used for measuring israeli attitudes. In this way, it may be possible to use these measures to ascertain the level of readiness for peace. Indeed, people may explicitly say they want coexistence, but it is important to examine the level of readiness on a psychological level, and this would include having to be in close proximity to the other. I found out that the center that organized this study is currently frozen due to lack of funds, which is incredibly disappointing. The psychological well being of people in conflict and post conflict zones always seems to be less emphasized than the financial or economic well being of the state. But in reality, as I always say, peace comes from the people, not the institutions alone.

No comments:

Post a Comment