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Ny studie viser at håp kan være et tveegget sverd i krig

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Ny studie med forskere fra blant annet Universitetet i Oslo, viser at håp kan ha negativ innflytelse på konflikt og fredsbygging.

Colourbox / Juan Moyano

In a groundbreaking study that challenges conventional wisdom, researchers have discovered that hope, often celebrated for its positive influence in conflicts and peace-building, can also have detrimental and seemingly paradoxical effects in the context of war.

In a world beleaguered by enduring conflicts, such as the current distressing war between Israel and Hamas and the grim confrontations between Russia and Ukraine, a pioneering study has cast new light on the ambivalent role of hope in the theatre of war. Led by Prof. Eran Halperin's Lab for the Psychology of Intergroup Conflict and Reconciliation at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in collaboration with Osnabrück University in Germany and the University of Oslo in Norway, and published in the British Journal of Social Psychology, this study delves into the paradoxical consequences of hope - a sentiment long hailed for its life-affirming virtues - within the context of protracted conflicts.

Titled "Between Victory and Peace: Unraveling the Paradox of Hope in Intractable Conflicts", the research dissects the traditional perception of hope as a purely positive force, capable of engendering personal benefits such as health and well-being. It contrasts this with the revelation that when aligned with the aspiration for one's group's victory over another group, hope can paradoxically fan the flames of violence and exacerbate hostilities.

“Our investigation brings to the forefront a critical, yet overlooked aspect of hope in conflicts,” stated Dr. Maor Shani from Osnabrück University. “While hope in the context of conflicts has so far been celebrated for its capacity to inspire actions towards peace and reconciliation, our findings expose its darker facets, where hope for victory, rather than peace, can drive communities towards supporting actions as extreme as war crimes against their adversaries.”

The study is particularly resonant in light of the ongoing excessive violence between Israel and Hamas, providing a timely reflection on how collective emotions shape the trajectory of conflict. By analyzing data collected in Israel in the wake of the harrowing October 7 attacks and the ensuing war in Gaza, a conflict marked by profound loss and suffering on both sides, the research illustrates a dramatic pivot from hope for peace to an intensified hope for victory, and the dire implications of such a shift.

“Following the October 7 atrocities, we witnessed an alarming shift in the orientations of Israelis, where the scales of hope tipped overwhelmingly away from peace and towards victory,” elaborated Dr. Shani. “This development is not without consequence; it led to an increased support for extreme measures against Palestinians, measures that tread perilously close to the bounds of ethnic cleansing and war crimes.”

The researchers advocate for a nuanced approach to fostering hope, one that emphasizes reconciliation and peace over triumph. "As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to capture global attention, our findings are a wake-up call to the dangers of a single-minded pursuit of victory," remarked Prof. Jonas Kunst from Oslo University. "Now, more than ever, it is essential to channel hope towards constructive ends that can lead to real and lasting peace."

In shedding light on the paradoxical effects of hope in conflicts, this research not only contributes to academic discourse but also offers critical insights for policymakers, peacebuilders, and communities caught in the crossfire of enduring conflicts. It underscores the urgency of reimagining hope as a force that genuinely aligns with the principles of peace and mutual understanding.

Reference:

Shani, M., Kunst, J. R., Anjum, G., Obaidi, M., Leshem, O. A., Antonovsky, R., & Halperin, E. (2024). Between victory and peace: Unravelling the paradox of hope in intractable conflicts. British Journal of Social Psychologyhttps://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12722

Open access: https://bpspsychub.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjso.12722

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