A collective blame hypocrisy intervention enduringly reduces hostility towards Muslims


Hostility towards outgroups contributes to costly intergroup conflict. Here we test an intervention to reduce hostility towards Muslims, a frequently targeted outgroup. Our ‘collective blame hypocrisy’ intervention highlights the hypocrisy involved in the tendency for people to collectively blame outgroup but not ingroup members for blameworthy actions of individual group members. Using both within-subject and between-subject comparisons in a preregistered longitudinal study in Spain, we find that our intervention reduces collective blame of Muslims and downstream anti-Muslim sentiments relative to a matched control condition and that the effects of the intervention persist one month and also one year later. We replicate the benefits of the intervention in a second study. The effects are mediated by reductions in collective blame and moderated by individual differences in preference for consistency. Together, these data illustrate that the collective blame hypocrisy intervention enduringly reduces harmful intergroup attitudes associated with conflict escalation, particularly among those who value consistency in themselves and others.

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Fig. 1: Experimental effects of collective blame hypocrisy intervention on anti-Muslim hostility over 12 months.
Fig. 2: Anti-Muslim hostility before and after receiving collective blame hypocrisy intervention.
Fig. 3: Effects of collective blame hypocrisy intervention on collective blame of Muslims across levels of preference for consistency among participants in treatment condition B.

Data availability

The data files that support the findings of the studies are available at https://osf.io/fwp7g/files/

Code availability

Custom code that supports the findings of this study is available from the corresponding author upon request.


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The authors received no specific funding for this work.

Author information




E.G.B. developed the study concept. E.G.B., N.S.K. and A.U. contributed to the study design. A.U. translated all materials into Spanish. Data collection was performed by E.G.B. E.G.B and N.S.K. performed the data analysis. E.G.B. and N.S.K. drafted the manuscript and A.U. provided critical revisions. E.G.B., N.S.K. and A.U. approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

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Correspondence to Emile G. Bruneau.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Methods 1 and 2, Supplementary Results 1–4, Supplementary Discussion 1–3, Supplementary Tables 1–4 and Supplementary References.

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Bruneau, E.G., Kteily, N.S. & Urbiola, A. A collective blame hypocrisy intervention enduringly reduces hostility towards Muslims. Nat Hum Behav 4, 45–54 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-019-0747-7

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