International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

1Y Socio-Psychological Barriers to Peace Making in Protracted Conflicts

(Session Organizer) Shiri Landman, The Swiss Center for Conflict Research, Management and Resolution Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; (Chair) Eran Halperin, IDC He

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: The Swiss Center for Conflict Research, Management and Resolution Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Research Area: Political conflict, violence, and crisis

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, protracted ethno-national conflicts constitute one of the most pressing problems undermining the security and well being of societies all over the world. Whereas the immediate causes of these conflicts are disputes over fundamental tangible and non-tangible interests (e.g., recognition) their longevity can be attributed to the socio-psychological barriers that evolve with the continuation of the conflict. These barriers consist of conflict-supporting societal beliefs that help societies to meet the challenges the continuous confrontation poses and adapt to the suffering associated with it, by providing justifications for its continuation. The societal beliefs, supported by cognitive, emotional and motivational processes and social mechanisms, serve as a rigid prism through which society members and leaders construe their reality, leading to a biased processing of new information about the conflict that fosters animosity, and inhibit progress towards a peaceful resolution.

The symposium will explore the nature of the socio-psychological barriers to the resolution of intractable conflicts, and examine their implications in different settings. Particular emphasis will be given to the interrelations between the different components of the socio-psychological infrastructure of the conflict: the effects of content-based social beliefs on information processing, and vice versa: the role of cognitive and motivational processes in reinforcing the rigidity of the conflict-supporting beliefs. The first paper by Roni Porat, Eran Halperin and Daniel Bar Tal explored the effect of conflict-supporting beliefs on decision making processes of Israeli Jews considering peace proposals. Özden Melis Ulu─č and J. Christopher Cohrs analyze the contents of conflict-supporting beliefs in the Turkish-Kurdish conflict. Shiri Tal-Landman focuses on the point of overlap between realistic and socio-psychological barriers to conflict resolution: Tangible disputed issues that are treated by the parties as nonnegotiable on ideological or moral grounds; and examines ways to make them negotiable. The fourth paper by Varda Liberman, Smadar Cohen, Eran Halperin and Lee Ross deals with reactive devaluation - the tendency on the part of an adversary to devalue any settlement proposal offered by the other party. Finally, Ruth Pliskin, Rafi Nets -Zehngut and Daniel Bar-Tal conceptualize and test the causes, characteristics and consequences of self-censorship of officials holding the power to determine what information about the conflict is publicized.