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Humiliation and the Inertia Effect: Implications for Understanding Violence and Compromise in Intractable Intergroup Conflicts

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We investigated the influence of humiliation on inter-group conflict in three studies of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. We demonstrate that experienced humiliation produces an inertia effect; a tendency towards inaction that suppresses rebellious or violent action but which paradoxically also suppresses support for acts of inter-group compromise. In Study 1, Palestinians who felt more humiliated by the Israeli occupation were less likely to support suicide attacks against Israelis. In Study 2, priming Palestinians with a humiliating experience caused fewer expressions of joy when subsequently hearing about suicide attacks. In Study 3, Palestinians who felt more humiliated by peace deals were less likely to support those deals, while Israeli symbolic compromises that decreased feelings of humiliation increased support for the same deals. While the experience of humiliation does not seem to contribute to political violence, it does seem to suppress support for conflict resolution.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, New School for Social Research, 65 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003, USA; 2: CNRS – Institut Jean Nicod, Paris, France; John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, NY, USA; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

10.1163/156853708X358182
/content/journals/10.1163/156853708x358182
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/content/journals/10.1163/156853708x358182
2008-08-01
2016-12-04

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