Socio-psychological barriers for peace making and ideas to overcome them

Daniel Bar-Tal*, Eran Halperin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Intensive and violent intergroup conflicts that rage in different parts of the world are real. These conflicts center over disagreements focusing on contradictory goals and interests in different domains and must be addressed in conflict resolution. It is well known that the disagreements could potentially be resolved if not the powerful socio-psychological barriers which fuel and maintain the conflicts. These barriers inhibit and impede progress towards peaceful settlement of the conflict. They stand as major obstacles to begin the negotiation, to continue the negotiation, to achieve an agreement and later to engage in a process of reconciliation. These barriers are found among both leaders and society members that are involved in vicious, violent and protracted intergroup conflicts. They pertain to the integrated operation of cognitive, emotional and motivational processes, combined with a pre-existing repertoire of rigid supporting beliefs, world views and emotions that result in selective, biased and distorted information processing. This processing obstructs and inhibits the penetration of new information that can potentially contribute to facilitating progress in the peace-making process. The paper elaborates on the nature of the socio-psychological barriers and proposes preliminary ideas of how to overcome them. These ideas focus on the unfreezing process which eventually may lead to cessation of adherence to the repertoire that supports the continuation of the conflict, its evaluation and arousal of the readiness to entertain of alternative beliefs that support peace making.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethos of conflict
  • Intergroup emotions
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Psychological barriers


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