Effects of Humor on Intergroup Communication in Intractable Conflicts: Using Humor in an Intergroup Appeal Facilitates Stronger Agreement Between Groups and a Greater Willingness to Compromise

Nimrod Nir*, Eran Halperin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Overcoming sociopsychological barriers within intergroup communications may bring forth new, practical methods for conflict resolution, particularly crucial for groups engulfed by intractable conflict. This article examines the use of humor—an extremely effective technique of persuasive communication—as one potential route whose potency in resolving intractable conflicts has thus far been neglected. In Study 1, Palestinians who read a message from an “Israeli representative” (conveying the Israeli narrative of the conflict) agreed more with the Israeli perspective once three short humorous asides were added to the original statement. When these humorous asides targeted Jewish-Israelis, Palestinian-Israeli participants were more willing to compromise on various aspects of the conflict. In Study 2, Jewish-Israelis who read a message from a “Palestinian representative” were more agreeable to the Palestinian message (portraying the Palestinian narrative) once three short humorous asides were added to the original statement. When these humorous asides were general in nature (but not when they targeted Palestinian-Israelis), Jewish-Israeli participants were more willing to compromise on various aspects of this intractable conflict. These findings further demonstrate the power of psychological barriers in intractable conflicts and the potential of humor to overcome them. Implications and limitations of the current research are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)467-485
Number of pages19
JournalPolitical Psychology
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 International Society of Political Psychology

Keywords

  • humor
  • intergroup communication
  • psychological barriers
  • psychological interventions

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