Promoting Harmonious Relations and Equitable Well-Being: Peace Psychology and “Intractable” Conflicts

Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS, volume 27)


The chapter explores Bar-Tal’s legacy in relation to key concepts, perspectives, and findings that comprise the growing field of peace psychology, specifically the promotion of sustainable peace through the indivisible constructs of harmonious relations and equitable well-being. Analyzed through a peace psychology lens, Bar-Tal’s work highlights both the barriers to and bridges for achieving sustainable peace. Central concepts from his work, such as fear, insecurity, and an ethos of conflict, demonstrate key obstacles to fostering harmonious intergroup relations based on social justice. Bar-Tal’s work also identifies processes that can overcome these barriers, which is consistent with peace psychology’s emphasis on the development of constructive responses to violence and conflict. For example, the chapter outlines how confidence-building mechanisms, mutually respectful identities, and reconciliation processes, may help foster an ethos of peace that can be embedded in the structure of societies through peace education. The chapter concludes with implications and suggestions for future research, with a focus on the role of young people in settings of prolonged intergroup division and generational approaches to peacebuilding, as conceptualized through a peace psychology lens.


Affective Empathy Intergroup Relation Opposing Group Outgroup Member Peace Education 
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.


  1. Bar-Tal, D. (2000). From intractable conflict through conflict resolution to reconciliation: Psychological analysis. Political Psychology, 21, 351–365. doi:10.1111/0162-895X.00192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bar-Tal, D. (2007). Sociopsychological foundations of intractable conflicts. American Behavioral Scientist, 50, 1430–1453. doi:10.1177/0002764207302462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bar-Tal, D., & Halperin, E. (2009). Overcoming psychological barriers to peacemaking: The influence of beliefs about losses. In M. Mikulincer & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Prosocial motives, emotions, and behavior: The better angels of our nature (pp. 431–448). Washington: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/12061-022.Google Scholar
  4. Bar-Tal, D., & Halperin, E. (2011). Socio-psychological barriers to conflict resolution. In D. Bar-Tal (Ed.) Intergroup conflicts and their resolution: Social psychological perspective (pp. 217–240). New-York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bar-Tal, D., & Jacobson, D. (1998). A psychological perspective on security. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 47, 59–71. doi:10.1111/j.1464–0597.1998.tb00013.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bar-Tal, D., & Rosen, Y. (2009). Peace education in societies involved in intractable conflicts: Direct and indirect models. Review of Educational Research, 79, 557–575. doi:10.3102/0034654308330969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bar-Tal, D., Sharvit, K., Halperin, E., & Zafran, A. (2012). Ethos of conflict: The concept and its measurement. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 18, 40–61. doi:10.1037/a0026860.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Christie, D. J. (2006). What is peace psychology the psychology of? Journal of Social Issues, 62, 1–17. doi:10.1111/j.1540–4560.2006.00436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Christie, D. J., & Montiel, C. J. (2013). Contributions of psychology to war and peace. American Psychologist, 68, 502–513.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Christie, D. J., Behrman, J. R., Cochrane, J. R., Dawes, A., Goth, K., Hayden, J., Masten, A. S., Panter-Brick, C., Punamäki, R-L., & Tomlinson, M. (in press). Healthy human development as a path to peace. In J. F. Leckman, C Panter-Brick, & R. Salah (Eds.), Raising a peaceful world: The transformative power of families and child development. Boston: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  11. 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 & Personality Science, 5, 67–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cohrs, J., & Boehnke, K. (2008). Social psychology and peace. Social Psychology, 39, 2–3. doi:10.1027/1864-9335.39.1.2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cummings, E. M., Taylor, L. K., Merrilees, C. E., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Shirlow, P., & Cairns, E. (2013). Relations between political violence and child adjustment: A four-wave test of the role of emotional insecurity about community. Developmental Psychology, 49, 2212–2224.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Darby, J., Dukalskis, A., & Taylor, L. K. (in press). Reconciliation’s contributions to quality peace. In J. Darby, P. Wallensteen, & J. Madhav (Eds.), Quality peace: The role of third parties and the search for indicators. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Dovidio, J. F., Gaertner, S. L., & Saguy, T. (2009). Commonality and the complexity of ‘we’: Social attitudes and social change. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 13, 3–20. doi:10.1177/1088868308326751.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Galtung, J. (1996). Peace by peaceful means: Peace and conflict, development and civilization. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  17. Hagai, E., Zurbriggen, E. L., Hammack, P. L., & Ziman, M. (2013). Beliefs predicting peace, beliefs predicting war: Jewish Americans and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy (ASAP), 13, 286–309. doi:10.1111/asap.12023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Halperin, E., Bar-Tal, D., Nets-Zehngut, R., & Drori, E. (2008). Emotions in conflict: Correlates of fear and hope in the Israeli-Jewish society. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 14, 233–258. doi:10.1080/10781910802229157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jost, J. T., Banaji, M. R., Prentice, D. A., & McGuire, W. J. (2004). Perspectivism in social psychology: The yin and yang of scientific progress. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kriesberg, L. (2006). Constructive conflicts: From escalation to resolution. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  21. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  22. Lederach, J. P. (1997). Building peace: Sustainable reconciliation in divided societies. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.Google Scholar
  23. Lederach, J. P. (2001). Civil society and reconciliation. In C. A. Crocker, F. O. Hampson, & P. Adall (Eds.), Turbulent peace: The challenges of managing international conflict (pp. 841–854). Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.Google Scholar
  24. Leung, K., Koch, P. T., & Lu, L. (2002). A dualistic model of harmony and its implications for conflict management in Asia. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 19, 201–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. MacNair, R. (2012). The psychology of peace: An introduction. Santa Barbara: Praeger.Google Scholar
  26. McEvoy-Levy, S. (Ed.). (2006). Troublemakers or peacemakers? Youth and post-accord peace Building. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  27. Porat, R., Halperin, E., & Bar-Tal, D. (2015). The effect of socio-psychological barriers on the processing of new information about peace opportunities. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 59(1), 93–119 Google Scholar
  28. Staub, E., & Vollhardt, J. (2008). Altruism born of suffering: The roots of caring and helping after victimization and other trauma. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 78, 267–280. doi:10.1037/a0014223.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Stephan, W. G., & Stephan, C. W. (2000). An integrated threat theory of prejudice. In S. Oskamp (Ed.), Reducing prejudice and discrimination (pp. 23–46). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  30. Stürmer, S., & Snyder, M. (2010). The psychology of prosocial behavior: Group processes, intergroup relations, and helping. Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  31. Stürmer, S., Snyder, M., & Omoto, A. M. (2005). Prosocial emotions and helping: The moderating role of group membership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 532–546. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.88.3.532.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tajfel, H. (1984). Social psychology of intergroup relations. Annual Review of Psychology, 33, 1–39. doi:10.1146/ Scholar
  33. Tam, T., Hewstone, M., Kenworthy, J., & Cairns, E. (2009). Intergroup trust in Northern Ireland. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 45–59. doi:10.1177/0146167208325004.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Taylor, L. K., Merrilees, C. E., Cairns, E., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Shirlow, P., & Cummings, E. M. (2013). Risk and resilience: The moderating role of social coping for maternal mental health in a setting of political conflict. International Journal of Psychology, 48, 591–603.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Taylor, L.K., Merrilees, C.E., Goeke-Morey, M.C., Shirlow, P., & Cummings, E.M. (in press). Trajectories of adolescent aggression and family cohesion: The potential to perpetuate or ameliorate political conflict. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.Google Scholar
  36. Taylor, L.K., Merrilees, C.E., Goeke-Morey, M.C., Shirlow, P., Cairns, E., & Cummings, E.M. (2014). Political violence and adolescent outgroup attitudes and prosocial behaviors: Implications for positive intergroup relations. Social Development, 23(4), 840–859.Google Scholar
  37. Thoits, P. A. (1986). Social support as coping assistance. Journal of Consulting And Clinical Psychology, 54, 416–423. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.54.4.416.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Tropp, L. R., & Mallett, R. K. (2011). Moving beyond prejudice reduction: Pathways to positive intergroup relations. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Vollhardt, J. R. (2009). Altruism born of suffering and prosocial behavior following adverse life events: A review and conceptualization. Social Justice Research, 22, 53–97. doi:10.1007/s11211-009-0088-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Vollhardt, J. R. (2012). Collective victimization. In L. R. Tropp (Ed.). The Oxford handbook of intergroup conflict (pp. 136–157). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Vollhardt, J. K., & Bilali, R. (2008). Social psychology’s contribution to the psychological study of peace: A review. Social Psychology, 39, 12–25. doi:10.1027/1864-9335.39.1.12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queen’s UniversityBelfastUK
  2. 2.Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

Personalised recommendations