The Differential Effects of Hope and Fear on Information Processing in Intractable Conflict


  • Smadar Cohen-Chen
  • Eran Halperin
  • Roni Porat
  • Daniel Bar-Tal


Emotional barriers have been found to play a critical role in forming attitudes and behaviors in conflict and peace-making. A major effect of such affective barriers is cognitive freezing, which reduces openness to new information and opportunities to conflict resolution. In the current research, we examined the hypothesis that hope and fear have opposite effects on information processing in such contexts. A time-lagged correlational study with 222 Israeli-Jews was conducted using a new computerized information processing simulator. Results revealed that when faced with an opportunity for peace, long-term hope was associated with acquiring information in favor of accepting the opportunity, whereas fear was associated with acquiring information that was biased towards rejecting the opportunity. Results also showed that both emotions were not associated with the amount of information gathered by participants. Findings have both theoretical and practical implications regarding the differential roles of hope and fear in identifying opportunities for, and promoting, conflict resolution.