Differentiation in Understanding One's Own and the Adversary's Identity in Protracted Intergroup Conflict: Zionism and Palestinianism


1 Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Nadim N. Rouhana, Graduate Programs in Dispute Resolution, University of Massachusetts, Boston, 100 Morrissey Blvd., Boston, MA 02125-3393.


This study examines the meaning of identity for in-group and out-group members in protracted intergroup conflict, and the extent of differentiation people show in understanding in-group and out-group national identity. Based on the differential familiarity hypothesis, it was hypothesized that group members will show more differentiation when referring to in-group than to out-group identity. Based on the established relationship between cognitive complexity and political ideology, it was hypothesized that supporters of conciliatory political parties will demonstrate more differentiation when referring to in-group and out-group identity than supporters of nonconciliatory parties. These hypotheses were confirmed in a study that asked Arab and Jewish high-school students in Israeli schools about the meaning of Zionism and Palestinian identity.