Paradoxical Thinking as Intervention to Promote Peace

In societies involved in an intractable conflict, there are strong socio-psychological barriers that contribute to the continuation and intractability of the conflict. Based on a unique field study conducted in the context of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, we offer a new avenue to overcome these barriers by exposing participants to a long-term paradoxical intervention campaign expressing extreme ideas that are congruent with the shared ethos of conflict. Results show that the intervention, although counterintuitive, led participants to express more conciliatory attitudes regarding the conflict, particularly among participants with center and right political orientation. Most importantly, the intervention even influenced participants’ actual voting patterns in the 2013 Israeli general elections: Participants who were exposed to the paradoxical intervention, which took place in proximity to the general elections, reported that they tended to vote more for dovish parties, which advocate a peaceful resolution to the conflict. These effects were long lasting, as the participants in the intervention condition expressed more conciliatory attitudes when they were  reassessed 1 year after the intervention. Based on these results, we propose a new layer to the general theory of persuasion based on the concept of paradoxical thinking.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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