The role of family history in shaping attitudes toward outgroups

We examine how membership in a historical outgroup a↵ ects attitudes toward other outgroups later in time. We provide evidence from Greece, a country that serves as an entry port to Europe for a large number of refugees, and whose native population largely consists of descendants of ethnic Greeks that were forcibly relocated from Turkey in the early 20th century. Combining historical and survey data with an experimental manipulation we show that the history of forced relocation in an individual’s family weakly increases sympathy for Syrian refugees undergoing a similar experience today. Increasing the salience of the similarity of past and present outgroups has a positive e↵ ect on the behaviors and attitudes of Greek descendants of forced migrants toward refugees. This e↵ ect is also found among Greeks without a family history of forced migration, but only in places with a large historical concentration of Greek refugees from Turkey, where this historical experience is salient. Overall, our findings suggest that harnessing past experience can be an e↵ ective way of increasing empathy and reducing outgroup discrimination.