The Effect of Perspective-Giving on Post-Conflict Reconciliation. An Experimental Approach
Forthcoming in Political Psychology.
46 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2015 Last revised: 13 Nov 2015
Date Written: May 30, 2015
Discussion groups are a promising tool for bridging the divide between former conflict antagonists. However, such groups do not always produce the desired outcome of improved attitudes, even when they meet the conditions generally seen as favoring positive interaction. In this article, we examine specific discussion protocols that mitigate polarization risks while fostering reconciliation. Using a randomized, controlled design, we formed a pool of 429 ex-combatants and members of conflict-affected communities in Colombia. Participants were asked to join heterogeneous groups and discuss their proposals for the future of Colombia. Those who were randomly assigned to a perspective-giving treatment protocol (where they were asked to refer to their personal experience and perspective) consistently improved their inter-group attitudes, and by a proportionally higher percentage than those taking part under argumentation and control conditions. The positive effect was strongest for attitudes held by community members toward ex-combatants.
Keywords: Reconciliation, post-conflict, ex-combatants, victims, perspective-giving, attitudes, group discussion, randomized controlled trial, Colombia
JEL Classification: C93, D74, Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation