Adolescent outgroup helping, collective action, and political activism in a setting of protracted conflict
Taylor LK., McKeown S.
This article examines the role of empathy for outgroup helping, collective action and political activism among youth in Northern Ireland, a setting of protracted conflict. Integrating the Empathy-Attitudes-Action model with the Developmental Peacebuilding Model, a two-wave study was conducted to assess youth's behavioural intentions and actual behaviours toward refugees. Across two waves (N = 383, 52 % male, 48 % female; 14−16 years old), empathy at Time 1 predicted more positive attitudes toward ethnic minorities at Time 2, which in turn was positively related to four outcomes aiming to foster prosocial change for refugees: helping behaviour and realistic helping at the interpersonal level, collective action intentions at the structural level, and signing a petition aiming for cultural change. That is, outgroup attitudes mediated the link from empathy to three types of prosocial action toward refugees. The findings suggest that youth not only volunteer to help an individual outgroup member, but also support broader structural and cultural change that will benefit those they may never meet. Implications for recognising and supporting the constructive agency of youth toward disadvantaged groups in conflict settings are discussed.