Too good to be true: The effect of conciliatory message design on compromising attitudes in intractable conflicts

Zohar Kampf*, Yossi David

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The aim of this article is twofold: first, to demonstrate how the use of experimental methods challenges the implicit assumption of progressive discourse analysts that ‘inspiring’ messages will have a positive effect on political attitudes and trust regardless of the recipients’ early political dispositions, and second, to examine the power of conciliatory message design to change political attitudes in favor of a peaceful solution to intractable conflicts such as the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. By employing the conceptual frameworks of progressive discourse analysis and experimental critical discourse analysis, we examined the most comprehensive hypothesis formulated thus far in the literature of conflict resolution with regard to the conditions under which conciliatory messages become successful. We found that the exposure of hawkish participants to highly conciliatory messages decreases both their support for compromise-based peace and their trust in the opponent’s leader, which underlines the need for more caution on the side of peace discourse scholars when assuming that conciliatory language has the power to bring about a (positive) political change. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for critical/progressive discourse analysts, conflict resolution scholars and professionals involved in conciliatory message design.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)264-286
Number of pages23
JournalDiscourse and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • Experimental critical discourse analysis
  • message design peace communication
  • progressive/positive discourse analysis
  • reconciliation discourse


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