Conflict-resolution interventions based on the paradoxical thinking principles, that is, expressing amplified, exaggerated, or even absurd ideas that are congruent with the held conflict-supporting societal beliefs, have been shown to be an effective avenue of intervention, especially among individuals who are adamant in their views. However, the question as to why these interventions have been effective has remained unanswered. In the present research, we have examined possible underlying psychological mechanisms, focusing on identity threat, surprise, and general disagreement. In a small-scale lab study and a large-scale longitudinal study, we compared paradoxical thinking interventions with traditional interventions based on providing inconsistent information. The paradoxical thinking interventions led rightists to show more unfreezing of held conflict-supporting beliefs and openness to alternative information, whereas the inconsistency-based interventions tended to be more effective with the centrist participants. Both studies provide evidence that the effects were driven by identity threat, surprise, and lower levels of disagreement.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study has been funded by Israel Science Foundation (ISF) Grant 664/16 awarded to the third and fourth authors, and by a grant from the Arik Institute awarded to the fourth author. The first author is grateful to the Azrieli Foundation for the award of an Azrieli Fellowship.
© 2017, © 2017 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
- attitude change
- intractable conflict
- paradoxical thinking
- psychological intervention