The Dual Effect of COVID-19 on Intergroup Conflict in the Korean Peninsula

Nimrod Nir*, Eran Halperin, Juhwa Park

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally shifted the way human beings interact, both as individuals and groups, in the face of such a widespread outbreak. This paper seeks to investigate the effects of COVID-19 on intergroup emotions and attitudes within an intractable intergroup conflict, specifically, through the lens of the Korean conflict. Using a two-wave, cross-sectional design, this study was able to track the profound psychological changes in intergroup emotions and attitudes both prior to the pandemic and during its onslaught. Results of these two wave representative samples show that South Korean citizens demonstrated higher levels of fear of their neighbors in North Korea after the outbreak of COVID-19 than before. In turn, this led to increased societal support of hostile government policies towards North Koreans. Conversely, the same participants exhibited higher levels of empathy towards North Koreans during the pandemic, which led to a higher willingness to collaborate with their outgroup. This dual effect on intergroup emotions within intractable conflicts brings forth new avenues from which societies may be able to restrain the destructive influence of the COVID-19 threat on intergroup relations — as well as harvesting its constructive potential for reconciling warring intergroup relations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1908-1930
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Volume66
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Group Based Emotions
  • Intergroup
  • Korea
  • conflict
  • conflict resolution
  • international cooperation

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