What is the best way to achieve reconciliation and peace following international or inter-ethnic conflict and violence? Impunity, trials or tribunals, and truth commissions are different methods to that have been used to try to resolve conflicts. Dr. Bernhard Leidner (University of Massachusetts Amherst) and colleagues will test which approaches to international/inter-ethnic violence (AIVs) are most likely to facilitate reconciliation and peace in post-conflict societies. They have developed a model explaining the consequences and underlying mechanisms of different AIVs among perpetrators and victims. Dr. Leidner and his collaborators hypothesize that perceived fairness of an AIV leads to increased willingness to reconcile and decreased motivation for future violence; and this occurs by increasing empathy for, and decreasing anger at and dehumanization of the adversarial group of a past conflict. Which AIV will be perceived as most fair should depend on people's membership in victim or perpetrator groups, and their beliefs in the superiority of this group over other groups. This theory will be tested in ten empirical studies in multiple countries, utilizing a mix of research designs. Participants will include heterogeneous and representative groups of adults, some whom have experienced past international or inter-ethnic conflict.
This research tests hypotheses of theoretical and scholarly interest at the center of important large-scale social problems. Knowledge gained from this work will be of interest to scholars from a broad range of disciplines (e.g., foreign/ international relations, international law, political science, psychology, sociology) and will inform our understanding of and decisions about AIVs. Therefore, this research constitutes an important step in working towards minimizing international or inter-ethnic violence and maximizing reconciliation and peace. This project will also provide unique, interdisciplinary training and education for graduate researchers and undergraduate research assistants, including some from under-represented backgrounds. Research findings will be disseminated through journal publications and conference presentations, as well as through NGOs and other entities outside of academia.