Building Tolerance: Intergroup Contact and Soccer in Post-ISIS Iraq

53 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2021

See all articles by Salma Mousa

Salma Mousa

Stanford Immigration Policy Lab

Date Written: 2019


Can intergroup contact build social cohesion after war? I answer this question by randomly assigning Iraqi Christians displaced by ISIS either to an all-Christian soccer team or to a team mixed with Muslims. I find persistent changes tobehaviors toward Muslim peers: Christians with Muslim teammates are more likely to sign up for a mixed soccer team inthe future (12 pp.,p<0.08), vote for a Muslim player (not on their team) to receive a sportsmanship award (16 pp.,p<0.01),and train with Muslims six months after the intervention ends (34 pp.,p<0.01). Players on mixed teams are also morelikely to believe that coexistence is possible (63 SDs.,p<0.01). These results seem to be driven by changing norms aroundsocial contact as well as a positive experience, with top-performing teams being more likely to patronize a restaurant inMuslim-dominated Mosul. Contact was less effective, however, at shifting generalized tolerance toward Muslim strangers.These findings point to the potential for meaningful social contact to build coexistence after conflict — even if underlying prejudice remains unchanged.

Keywords: conflict, intergroup contact, migration, Middle East

Suggested Citation

Mousa, Salma, Building Tolerance: Intergroup Contact and Soccer in Post-ISIS Iraq (2019). Program on Governance and Local Development Working Paper No. 26, Available at SSRN: or

Salma Mousa (Contact Author)

Stanford Immigration Policy Lab ( email )

30 Alta Road
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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