Why Is It So Difficult to Resolve Intractable Conflicts Peacefully? A Sociopsychological Explanation

  • Daniel Bar-Tal
  • Eran Halperin
  • Ruthie Pliskin


Intensive and violent intergroup conflicts that rage in different parts of the world are real. These conflicts center over disagreements focusing on contradictory goals and interests in different domains and must be addressed in conflict resolution. It is well known, however, that the disagreements could potentially be resolved if not the powerful sociopsychological barriers which fuel and maintain the conflicts. These barriers inhibit and impede progress toward peaceful settlement of the conflict. They stand as major obstacles to begin the negotiation, to continue the negotiation, to achieve an agreement, and later to engage in a process of reconciliation. These barriers are found among both leaders and society members that are involved in vicious, violent, and protracted intergroup conflicts. They pertain to the integrated operation of cognitive, emotional, and motivational processes combined with a preexisting repertoire of rigid supporting beliefs, worldviews, and emotions that result in selective, biased, and distorted information processing. This processing obstructs and inhibits the penetration of new information that can potentially contribute to facilitating progress in the peacemaking process. The chapter elaborates on the nature of the sociopsychological barriers and proposes preliminary ideas of how to overcome them. These ideas focus on the unfreezing process which eventually may lead to reduced adherence to this repertoire, which supports the conflict’s continuation and evaluation, and increased readiness to entertain beliefs that promote peacemaking.


Collective Memory Society Member Violent Conflict Rival Group Intergroup Conflict 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.IDC HerzliyaHerzliyaIsrael

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