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Felicitas Flade: Israel

Tel Aviv University, The School of Psychological Sciences (2016)

"In my PhD thesis, I aim to show that the context of an interaction can influence the extent of categorization on an automatic, spontaneous level of social categorization. More specifically, […] I found decategorization of Black and White Americans when the discussion topic […] was Islamistic Threat to the US, i.e. a threat towards an inclusive category, relative to a neutral discussion topic. During the stay, my goal was to transfer this effect to categorization of conflict parties in […] the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Thus, this research stay served the major purpose of advancing my PhD project. Furthermore, this grant enabled me to immerse myself into the context in which I wanted to conduct the study, work with local researchers and students with their unique experience in conducting research in this context, and learn about their research in turn.

The first part of the stay was dedicated to in-depth discussions with my host, Prof. Yechiel Klar, and various other social psychologists of the department, on the design of the study and elaborations on processes that could be at work there. Once the design was finalized, […] data collection was organized and conducted in the lab. […] As of the end of the stay period, I continued to supervise data collection and to guide the students through writing a project report for their course requirements. […]

Preliminary data analysis suggests that main hypotheses can likely be confirmed. Categorization was strongest in the conflict condition, where Hebrew and Arab speakers uttered statements like “This land is the land of my group”, relative to that, categorization decreased for the neutral baseline condition, decreased further for the common goal condition (student life and striving for success in life, e.g. “I try to do my best in exam period”) and did not differ significantly from zero in the common enemy condition (fear of illness and disease, e.g. “I am afraid that a family member will get cancer”).

Both visiting student and host expressed strong desire for future collaboration. There are ideas for subsequent studies in this project, as well as an idea for a German branch of a study on the relationship between fear of victimizing (FOV) and attitude towards contemporary refugees, in a research line conducted by Yechiel Klar. The study will become part of a paper on the effect of communality and threat on spontaneous (de)categorization".