The prevalence of despair in intractable conflicts: Direct messages of hope and despair affect leftists, but not rightists

Smadar Cohen-Chen, Ofir Lang, Shira Ran, Eran Halperin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In contexts of long-term conflict, it often seems easier to spread despair than to instill hope. The prevalence of despair, an emotion that promotes apathy, in contexts that so desperately need hope, an emotion that promotes conciliation, calls for further investigation. One possibility is that messages of hope and despair have different effects on people based on their political ideology. In the present research we examined the effect of direct despair- and hope-inducing messages (compared to a control condition involving a neutral message) on participants' experience of hope for peace, their sense of urgency to resolve the conflict, and subsequently their support for concession-making as a function of political orientation. Two samples of Jewish-Israelis were collected. Study 1 was collected using snowball methods, while Study 2 replicated and enhanced findings with a more representative sample of Jewish-Israeli society collected using an online survey platform. In both studies, messages of hope or despair yielded no influence on Rightists, whose baseline of hope is inherently low. However, for Leftists (experiencing higher levels of hope for peace) the despair manipulation significantly decreased support for concession-making through decreased hope for peace and sense of urgency to resolve the conflict, providing an explanation to the prevalence of despair over hope in conflict.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)588-598
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume50
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Applied Social Psychology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC

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