Empathising with the enemy: emotion regulation and support for humanitarian aid in violent conflicts

Cognition and Emotion 31 (8):1511-1524 (2017)

Considering that negative intergroup emotions can hinder conflict resolution, we proposed integrative emotion regulation as possibly predicting conciliatory policies towards outgroups in violent conflict. Two studies examined Jewish Israelis’ self-reported IER, empathy, liberal attitudes, and support for humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza. Study 1 found that unlike reappraisal Jewish Israelis’ ability to explore emotions promoted concern for others’ emotions, which in turn predicted support for humanitarian aid. Study 2 replicated this mediation model, additionally confirming that liberal attitudes moderated the relation between IER and support for humanitarian aid. Thus, IER linked more strongly with humanitarian support when the commitment for liberal egalitarian beliefs was high. Preliminary results hold important theoretical and practical implications regarding the potential to empathise with outgroup members in intractable conflicts.
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DOI 10.1080/02699931.2016.1237348
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