Whereas politicians broker peace deals, it falls to the public to embrace peace and help sustain it. The legacy of conflicts can make it difficult for people to support reconciling and reintegrating with former enemies. Here we create a five-minute media intervention from interviews we conducted with Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) ex-combatants in a Colombian demobilization camp and non-FARC Colombians in neighbouring communities. We show that exposure to the media intervention humanizes FARC ex-combatants and increases support for peace and reintegration. These effects persisted at least three months post-exposure, were replicated in an independent sample of non-FARC Colombians and affected both attitudes (for example, support for reintegration policies) and behaviour (for example, donations to organizations supporting ex-combatants). As predicted, the intervention’s effects were mediated by changing conflict-associated cognitions—reducing the belief that ex-combatants are unwilling and unable to change—beyond affective pathways (for example, increased empathy or reduced prejudice).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience