Overcoming psychological barriers to peaceful conflict resolution: The role of arguments about losses

Corinna Carmen Gayer, Shiri Landman, Eran Halperin, Daniel Bar-Tal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


One of the most important psychological barriers to conflict resolution is the rigid structure of the sociopsychological repertoire that evolves in societies immersed in intractable conflict. This article examines ways to overcome the rigidity of this repertoire in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Specifically, in line with the prospect theory, the authors assumed that elicitation of beliefs about losses stemming from the continuing conflict may bring about a process of "unfreezing." To test this assumption, an exploratory study with a national sample of the Israeli-Jewish population and two subsequent experimental studies were conducted. The results demonstrated that exposure to information about losses inherent in continuing the conflict induces higher willingness to acquire new information about possible solutions to the conflict, higher willingness to reevaluate current positions about it, and more support for compromises than the exposure to neutral information or to information about possible gains derived from the peace agreement.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)951-975
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Conflict resolution
  • Framing
  • Intractable conflict
  • Prospect theory
  • Sociopsychological barriers


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