There has been a lot of conversation recently on the polarizing effects of media in the modern world. However, new research suggests media also has the potential to facilitate depolarization and peacebuilding. The study found that exposure to a media intervention increased support for peace and reintegration following the 2016 peace deal between the Colombian government and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).

Colombia’s internal conflict has raged on in the country since the 1950s, yet when a peace deal between the combatants was proposed in 2016, the Colombian populace narrowly rejected it in a national referendum. Though a revised peace deal was later passed by Congress, it was done so without popular support. The researchers found through a preliminary survey that many non-FARC Colombians held the belief that FARC members were “unwilling and unable to reintegrate and give up violence” which was associated with their opposition to the peace process.

The researchers then went to a demobilization camp housing ex-FARC combatants and, in collaboration with Colombian filmmakers, crafted 5-minute-long videos intended to address the beliefs of non-FARC Colombians. The videos contained the interviews of ex-FARC combatants and non-FARC Colombians of the neighboring village, highlighting their reintegration efforts and successful coexistence without asking them to directly comment on it. The researchers then presented these videos to a broad sample of non-FARC Colombians. They found that “exposure to the FARC-Integration media intervention significantly reduced beliefs about FARC members’ unwillingness and inability to change” relative to the control participants who were not presented with any videos. Those who were presented with the videos were also found to dehumanize FARC members less and express stronger support for peace compared to those who weren’t. The intervention group continued to express these views when the researchers asked them again 10-12 weeks after the viewing.

These results are particularly striking, not only in the sense that they confirm the effectiveness of the researchers’ video intervention approach, but also in the persistence of the intervention’s effects, since typical intergroup interventions are “are rarely shown to endure beyond the intervention period”.



Bruneau, E., Casas, A., Hameiri, B., & Kteily, N. (2022). Exposure to a media intervention helps promote support for peace in Colombia. Nature Human Behaviour, 6(6), 847–857.