Social problems such as intergroup conflicts, prejudice, and discrimination have a significant effect on the world's population. Often, to facilitate constructive solutions to these problems, fundamental attitude change is needed. However, changing the beliefs and attitudes to which people strongly adhere has proven to be difficult, as these individuals resist change. In this article, we offer a new and unconventional approach, termed paradoxical thinking, to promote the change of attitudes relevant to social realities. Paradoxical thinking refers to a process of exposing individuals to amplified, exaggerated, or even absurd messages that are still congruent with their held societal beliefs. In our research program, we focused on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and found that paradoxical thinking interventions led to attitude moderation among those who were the most adamant in their held attitudes and beliefs, even in the challenging context of a harsh and prolonged intergroup conflict. We then discuss how paradoxical thinking can be utilized to facilitate attitude change in this context and provide two brief examples as preliminary evidence that this approach might work in other important societal contexts, (i.e., attitudes toward refugees and asylum seekers, and gender-based discrimination), and conclude with policy recommendations.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research has been funded by Israel Science Foundation (ISF) grant #664/16 awarded to Eran Halperin and Daniel Bar-Tal. Boaz Hameiri is grateful to the Azrieli Foundation for the award of an Azrieli Fellowship.
© 2018 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues