The Paradoxical Thinking ‘Sweet Spot’: The Role of Recipients’ Latitude of Rejection in the Effectiveness of Paradoxical Thinking Messages Targeting Anti-Refugee Attitudes in Israel


  • Boaz Hameiri
  • Orly Idan
  • Eden Nabet
  • Daniel Bar-Tal
  • Eran Halperin


The current research examined whether for a message that is based on the paradoxical thinking principles—i.e., providing extreme, exaggerated, or even absurd views, that are congruent with the held views of the message recipients—to be effective, it needs to hit a ‘sweet spot’ and lead to a contrast effect. That is, it moderates the view of the message's recipients. In the framework of attitudes toward African refugees and asylum seekers in Israel by Israeli Jews, we found that compared to more moderate messages, an extreme, but not too extreme, message was effective in leading to unfreezing for high morally convicted recipients. The very extreme message similarly led to high levels of surprise and identity threat as the extreme message that was found to be effective. However, it was so extreme and absurd that it was rejected automatically. This was manifested in high levels of disagreement compared to all other messages, rendering it less effective compared to the extreme, paradoxical thinking, message. We discuss these findings’ practical and theoretical implications for the paradoxical thinking conceptual framework as an attitude change intervention, and for social judgment theory.