Cohrs, J. Christopher, Ö. Melis Uluğ, Lea Stahel, & Reşit Kışlıoğlu (2015). Ethos of conflict and beyond: Differentiating social representations of conflict. In Eran Halperin & Keren Sharvit (Eds.), The social psychology of intractable conflicts: Celebrating the legacy of Daniel Bar-Tal (Vol. 1, pp. 33-45, Chap 3). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. (doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-17861-5_3) (Link:

Abstract: Bar-Tal’s (1998, 2007) “ethos of conflict” is a powerful concept to account for the socially shared nature of conflict-supporting beliefs in societies involved in protracted conflict. We first briefly review studies on ethos of conflict and its consequences in the Jewish Israeli society and other societies that have used Bar-Tal’s conceptualization. Then we introduce our own approach, which builds on social representations theory (Moscovici, Psychoanalysis: Its Image And Its Public, 1961/1976) and a recent conceptualization of political ideology (Cohrs, Oxford Handbook of Intergroup Conflict, pp. 53–71, 2012). Our approach adopts a more bottom-up strategy that considers specific belief contents related to conflict and can account for qualitative differences within a society. We argue that it is important to go beyond distinguishing between people, who are high versus low on a dimension of ethos of conflict and to identify qualitatively different ideological subgroups in a conflict. To achieve this, we rely on Q methodological techniques. We illustrate the feasibility and usefulness of our approach by summarizing results from studies on the Kurdish conflict in Turkey and the Israel–Palestine conflict as represented by conflict outsiders, namely Swiss residents. Finally, we discuss the relative merits and shortcomings of the different approaches to conflict-related shared beliefs, possibilities for their integration, and some suggestions for future research in this area.

Christopher Cohrs <> is on the Faculty of Psychology, Philipps University of Marburg, Germany.

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