Addressing Violent Intergroup Conflict from the Bottom Up?

Ruth K. Ditlmann, Cyrus Samii, Thomas Zeitzoff

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    How might interventions that engage ordinary citizens in settings of violent conflict affect broader conflict dynamics? Given the volume of resources committed every year to citizen-oriented programs that attempt to promote peace, this is an important question. We develop a framework to analyze processes through which individual-level interventions could mitigate violent conflict escalation more broadly. Individual-level interventions may increase positive feelings toward the outgroup, as well as psychological, social, and material resources among participants. These have the potential to influence behaviors such as policing of the ingroup, public advocacy, and political action that can contribute to peace. Yet, the effectiveness of interventions to influence the conflict is moderated by contextual factors like groups’ access to material resources, their positions in society, and political institutions. We use this analytical framework to assess evidence from recent intervention studies. We find that the current evidence base is quite small, does not cover the diversity of relevant contexts, and gives too little attention to resources and capacities that enable people to engage in conflict mitigation behaviors. Researchers and policy makers should go beyond thinking only about improving attitudes to thinking about behavior, resources, and capacities for such behaviors, and contextual conditions that constrain behavior.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)38-77
    Number of pages40
    JournalSocial Issues and Policy Review
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Applied Psychology


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