Overcoming the trust deficit: Inter-group contact and associational life in post-ISIS Iraq
This study experimentally tests the potential for intergroup contact to reduce prejudice in a conflict setting for the first time. I randomly assign Iraqi Christians displaced by ISIS to an all-Christian soccer team or to a team mixed with Sunni Arabs – who share the same ethno-religious background as ISIS. In the pilot, Christians assigned to mixed teams were 26.1 percentage points more likely to attend a Ramadan event three weeks after the intervention, 45.5 percentage points more likely to train with Muslims four months later, and 0.31 standard deviations more likely to believe that peaceful coexistence is possible. These findings suggest that cooperative contact within civic organizations can rebuild social trust over time. I propose a scale-up of the experiment that tracks outcomes among participants, their households, and the local community at large.