Paradoxical thinking as a paradigm of attitude change in the context of intractable conflict

Daniel Bar-Tal*, Boaz Hameiri, Eran Halperin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The chapter introduces a new approach to attitude change, termed paradoxical thinking. It suggests that messages that are consistent with an individual's view, but formulated in an amplified, exaggerated, or even absurd manner, lead to an extended process of deliberative thinking and arouse lower levels of resistance compared to conventional persuasive approaches that use attitude-inconsistent messages. We argue that attitude-inconsistent messages are often automatically rejected among highly involved individuals with extreme views. The paradoxical thinking approach is intended to lead individuals to perceive their held societal beliefs or the current situation as farfetched and implausible, and ultimately, to lead to unfreezing and reevaluation of held attitudes. Eventually, unfreezing may lead to openness to alternative, more moderate viewpoints that may then be adopted. We introduce four variables that are part of the process (i.e., threat to identity, surprise, disagreement with the message, and unfreezing) and present empirical evidence supporting this conception with studies conducted mostly vis-à-vis conflict-supporting attitudes in the context of an intractable conflict.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Social Psychology
EditorsBertram Gawronski
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages59
ISBN (Print)9780128245781
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Social Psychology
ISSN (Print)0065-2601

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • Attitude change
  • Intractable conflict
  • Paradoxical thinking
  • Psychological intervention


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