May Al-Dabbagh

Global Network Assistant Professor, NYU Wagner; Assistant Professor of Social Research and Public Policy, NYU Abu Dhabi

May Al-Dabbagh

May Al-Dabbagh is an Assistant Professor of Social Research and Public Policy at New York University Abu Dhabi with an associated appointment at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU in New York. Previously, she was the Founder and Director of the Gender and Public Policy Program at the Dubai School of Government and a Research Fellow at the Women and Public Policy Program, HKS, Harvard University.

Al-Dabbagh is a specialist on gender and globalization in the Middle East and has conducted research on the topic using a combination of social psychology, public policy, and feminist lenses. Her current research projects include: the psychology of globalization; gender and negotiation; and intersections of family formation and women’s work in the Gulf Cooperative Council countries (GCC). Al-Dabbagh has publications in both academic and policy outlets in Arabic and English and her work has been featured in over 40 local, regional, and international media outlets.

Al-Dabbagh received a B.A. in Psychology from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Oxford. She is married to Hashem Montasser and they have one son, Abdallah, who keeps them both highly entertained.




Anecdotal evidence abounds that conflicts between two individuals can spread across networks to involve a multitude of others. We advance a cultural transmission model of intergroup conflict where conflict contagion is seen as a consequence of universal human traits (ingroup preference, outgroup hostility; i.e. parochial altruism) which give their strongest expression in particular cultural contexts. Qualitative interviews conducted in the Middle East, USA and Canada suggest that parochial altruism processes vary across cultural groups and are most likely to occur in collectivistic cultural contexts that have high ingroup loyalty. Implications for future neuroscience and computational research needed to understand the emergence of intergroup conflict are discussed.