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Empowered Victims & Moral Perpetrators: A Needs-Based Model of Reconciliation

May 13, 2013

from the entry by Christine Webb on

At a recent workshop at Leiden University on Obstacles and Catalysts for Peaceful Behavior, Nurit Shnabel presented exciting research distinguishing the needs of victims and perpetrators in interpersonal and intergroup conflicts. According to Shnabel and colleagues’ Needs-Based Model of Reconciliation, victims of conflict experience a psychological loss of status and honor, thus undermining their identities as powerful actors. Perpetrators, on the other hand, experience a psychological loss of social acceptance, thus threatening their identities as moral actors. Accordingly, victims and perpetrators are differentially motivated to restore these respective identities, and interactions that do so will increase their willingness to reconcile....

In line with predictions, being a victim primarily threatened one’s sense of power, resulting in a greater need to restore power, and being a perpetrator primarily threatened one’s public moral image, resulting in a greater need for social acceptance. In a follow-up study, researchers demonstrated that satisfying these different needs translated into a willingness to reconcile. Using the same creativity task paradigm, participants later received a message allegedly sent from their partner, which emphasized either empowerment or acceptance. As predicted, a message of empowerment was associated with an increased willingness to reconcile only among victims, whereas a message of acceptance was associated with an increased willingness to reconcile only among perpetrators....

Overall, this work highlights the emotional considerations of reconciliation (as opposed to the more traditional emphasis on instrumental concerns) by delineating the different psychological needs of victims and perpetrators in conflict. Together these studies highlight that effective intervention strategies to promote interpersonal and intergroup reconciliation must take into account both dimensions.

Read the whole entry.

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