A bright side of sadness: The depolarizing role of sadness in intergroup conflicts

Tamar Gur*, Shahar Ayal, Eran Halperin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Intractable conflicts constitute violent and threatening environments that lead to intense emotions and polarized attitudes. Sadness is one emotion frequently elicited by the price of such conflicts. This investigation characterized the effects of sadness on conflict-related information processing and attitudes in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Findings from four experimental studies suggest that both incidental and integral sadness can induce a depolarization of political attitudes. In Study 1 (N = 163), sadness reduced the effect of political ideology on conflict-related decisions. Sadness reduced the effect of political ideology on in-group bias in resource allocation in Studies 2 (N = 213) and 4 (N = 274), willingness to negotiate in Studies 1 and 3 (N = 174), and openness to information supporting the out-group's perspective (Study 4). Overall, in addition to its more negative implications, these results suggest that sadness (compared to both the non-emotional and anger conditions) may have a bright side, since it may induce depolarization of political attitudes in intractable conflicts.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)68-83
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • emotion
  • inter-group conflicts
  • negative emotions
  • political decision-making
  • sadness


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