Conflicts can stem from misreading motivations

Posted on November 10, 2014

The research involved the participation of almost 3,000 people: Israelis and Palestinians in the Mideast, Republicans and Democrats in the United States.

The study shows each side felt their own group is motivated by love more than hate, but when asked why their rival group is involved in the conflict, each entity pointed to hate as that group’s motivating factor. This idea is called “motive attribution asymmetry,” one group’s belief that their rivals are motivated by emotions opposite to their own.

These attributions tend to also track with other sorts of consequences so if you think that the people on the other side are motivated by their hatred of your group, you also are unwilling to negotiate with that group. You tend to think they’re more unreasonable, suggesting that people’s misattributions of other groups may be the cause of intractable conflict.

Only when a financial reward was presented would a study participant come up with the correct assessment as to what the motivation behind an opponent really was.

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Source material from Psych Central


Mental Health News