The variety of studies presented in Chapter 7 and the consistent findings obtained in them demonstrate that the representation of Arabs in the Jewish Israeli society attracted the interest of many researchers. However, most of the studies concentrated on the content of stereotypes, attitudes, and behavioral intentions expressed by adolescents or adults. The results of these studies, as well as the examination of the representation of Arabs in political discourse, media, literature, art, and school books (see Chapters 4–6), indicate that the negative representation of Arabs has a long-standing history, is deeply embedded, and is widely spread in the Israeli culture, reflecting the conflict between the two nations.
In view of these findings, a question as to how this shared psychological intergroup repertoire about Arabs evolves is inevitable. In order to answer this question, we conducted a decade-long, systematic, and comprehensive research project that aimed to shed light on the acquisition and development of the mental representations of the parties engulfed in the active and violent conflict, that is, the self-reference group (Jews, Israelis) and that of the rival group (Arabs). Specifically, some of the studies carried out in our laboratory aimed to describe or, as termed by Hirschfeld (1996), to document empirically the process of acquisition and development of the multifaceted mental representations of Jews and Arabs held by Jewish children, adolescents, and young adults in Israel. Other studies were theory-based, aiming to examine specific developmental predictions.