In 2005, researchers and policymakers gathered in Istanbul, Turkey for a conference, Delivery Systems for Substance Abuse Treatment, to address the internationally shared problem of substance use disorders. The conference included participants from the United States, Israel, and neighboring Middle Eastern countries and territories and was structured to create conditions that behavioral scientists have identified as key factors in facilitating successful intergroup contact. At the conclusion of the meeting, attendees reported being more likely to work with people from other countries or territories in their region as a result of the conference. Five years later, surveyed attendees reported having engaged in cooperative activities that the participants attributed at least in part to the conference. A number of concrete and verifiable examples of joint efforts between participants from the United States, Israel, and other Middle Eastern countries and territories were provided, suggesting the conference had a meaningful and lasting impact. This occurred despite a generally poor and declining environment for cooperation during this same period. These outcomes suggest that psychological principles can be successfully applied to real-world meetings, and that this may be a useful method for reaching participants who would not otherwise be reached by meetings explicitly promoted as peace-related. Limitations of this study include its descriptive nature and lack of a comparison group, which prevents conclusions regarding causality or magnitude of effect. This is a first step; in the future, controlled studies are needed to provide a stronger test of the effect of such structured meetings on outcomes.
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