Increased Support for Political Compromise in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Following an 8-Week Mindfulness Workshop
Mindfulness training has been shown to have a beneficial impact on emotions and perceptions. We examined whether it would reduce negative emotions and perceptions and lead to increased support for compromise in the context of prolonged intergroup conflict. We also examined the effect of an intervention that combines mindfulness with cognitive reappraisal, a method that enhances emotion regulation. Israeli students participated in a mindfulness course that either began in the winter semester (mindfulness group) or in the spring semester (control group). After the termination of the mindfulness course, all participants were invited to a laboratory session in which they were randomly assigned to either receive or not a short cognitive reappraisal training. The results showed that after being presented with anger-inducing information related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, participants in the mindfulness condition only, the reappraisal condition only or the combined group (mindfulness and reappraisal), were more supportive of conciliatory policies compared to participants that received no mindfulness nor reappraisal training. The increased support for conciliatory policies was mediated by a decrease in negative emotions in all groups, while in the mindfulness group, it was also mediated by reduction in negative perceptions. The combined impact of mindfulness and reappraisal did not reveal any additional effect.
KeywordsMindfulness MBSR Emotion regulation Perceived threat Compromise Conflict Resolution Reconciliation Peace Reappraisal
We wish to thank Tamara Moshon, Alma Sifrim, and Eva Schonfeld for their assistance in data collection. This project was partially supported by the Mind & Life 1440 award and the Sagol Foundation.
AA designed and executed the study, assisted with the data analyses, and wrote the paper. EH collaborated with the design and writing of the study. RT analyzed the data and wrote part of the results. NLB collaborated with the design, assisted with data analyses and the writing of the study.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This work has been partially funded by the Sagol Foundation and by the 1440 Mind & Life award.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., et al. (2004). Mindfulness: a proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11(3), 230–241.Google Scholar
- Block-Lerner, J., Adair, C., Plumb, J. C., Rhatigan, D. L., & Orsillo, S. M. (2007). The case for mindfulness-based approaches in the cultivation of empathy: does nonjudgmental, present-moment awareness increase capacity for perspective-taking and empathic concern? Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33(4), 501–516.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Brewer, J. A., Elwafi, H. M., & Davis, J. H. (2013). Craving to quit: Psychological models and neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness training as treatment for addictions. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 27(2), 366.Google Scholar
- Cohen-Chen, S., Halperin, E., Crisp, R. J., & Gross, J. J. (2014). Hope in the middle east: Malleability beliefs, hope, and the willingness to compromise for peace. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(1), 67–75.Google Scholar
- Feldman, G., Greeson, J., & Senville, J. (2010). Differential effects of mindful breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and loving-kindness meditation on decentering and negative reactions to repetitive thoughts. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 48(10), 1002–1011.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ferguson, M. L. (2016). Symposium: mindfulness and politics. New Political Science, 1–5.Google Scholar
- Garland, E. L., Kiken, L. G., Faurot, K., Palsson, O., & Gaylord, S. A. (2016). Upward spirals of mindfulness and reappraisal: testing the mindfulness-to-meaning theory with autoregressive latent trajectory modeling. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 1–12.Google Scholar
- Halperin, E., Sharvit, K., & Gross, J. J. (2011). Emotion and emotion regulation in intergroup conflict: an appraisal-based framework. Intergroup conflicts and their resolution: a social psychological perspective, 83–103.Google Scholar
- Hayes, A. M., & Feldman, G. (2004). Clarifying the construct of mindfulness in the context of emotion regulation and the process of change in therapy. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11(3), 255–262.Google Scholar
- Horowitz, D. L. (1985). Ethnic groups in conflict. Univ of California Press.Google Scholar
- Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York: Dell Publishing.Google Scholar
- Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go. There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life.Google Scholar
- Lindner, E. (2006). Making enemies: humiliation and international conflict. Greenwood Publishing Group.Google Scholar
- Lueke, A., & Gibson, B. (2014). Mindfulness meditation reduces implicit age and race bias the role of reduced automaticity of responding. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1948550614559651.Google Scholar
- Lueke, A., & Gibson, B. (2016). Brief mindfulness meditation reduces discrimination. Psychology of consciousness. Theory, Research, and Practice, 3(1), 34.Google Scholar
- Petersen, R. D. (2002). Understanding ethnic violence: fear, hatred, and resentment in twentieth-century Eastern Europe. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Reb, J., & Choi, E. (2014). Mindfulness in organizations.Google Scholar
- Rejeski, W. J. (2008). Mindfulness: Reconnecting the body and mind in geriatric medicine and gerontology. The Gerontologist, 48(2), 135–141.Google Scholar
- Schimchowitsch, S., & Rohmer, O. (2016). Can we reduce our implicit prejudice toward persons with disability? The challenge of meditation. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 1–10.Google Scholar
- Shapiro, S. L., Schwartz, G. E., & Bonner, G. (1998). Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on medical and premedical students. Journal of behavioral medicine, 21(6), 581–599.Google Scholar
- Volkan, V. (1997). Bloodlines. From ethnic pride to ethnic terrorism. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.Google Scholar