American Psychological Foundation

In 2008, APF awarded Eric F. Dubow, PhD, professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University, its $20,000 Violence Prevention and Intervention Grant. Dubow was interested in the design of school-based interventions to reduce problem behavior, the mental health effects of children exposed to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the development of aggression across generations.

The APF grant funded a pilot study of a sample of predominantly Arab and Jewish youth from two high schools in the Detroit area. This four-session program — called the Ethnic Stereotypes Reduction Intervention — trained 11th- and 12th-grade students to teach ninth-graders a curriculum aimed at reducing ethnic stereotypes. Dubow's team sought to teach students about the prevalence of ethnically motivated hate crimes in the United States; the nature of stereotypes about other ethnic groups and how the mass media and other influences contribute to the development of these stereotypes.

The program has shown some promising results, Dubow says. After the intervention program, peer leaders — the older students who taught the ninth-graders — improved on two of the three measures of attitudes toward ethnic groups. Dubow believes the program may have had a particular benefit for the peer leaders because they may internalize more of the program's central goals through teaching. Dubow believes that this experience will build the foundation for further programs to achieve broader positive changes in students' attitudes toward other ethnic groups.

The APF-funded study led to a $1.1 million study funded by the National Institutes of Health. For that project, Dubow and his team are collecting data on children in the Middle East, examining the effects of their exposure to ethnic-political violence on subsequent mental health.

"This APF grant greatly informs our continuing basic research program in the Middle East, for which we have just been awarded a grant to follow up our sample of 1,500 Israeli and Palestinian participants," said Dubow. "In addition, the APF funds allowed us to develop a social-cognitive-ecological framework for understanding the effect of exposure to ethnic-political violence on children's psychosocial adjustment."