A Whole Other Story: Inclusive Victimhood Narratives Reduce Competitive Victimhood and Intergroup Hostility

Adelman, Levi; Leidner, Bernhard; Ünal, Helin; Nahhas, Eman; Shnabel, Nurit
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

Conflict narratives, having at their core the belief that the ingroup suffered more than the outgroup (competitive victimhood), are key in maintaining conflicts. Three experiments conducted with Jewish Israelis (Study 1), Turkish Kurds (Study 2), and Americans (Study 3) tested whether conflict narratives can reduce conflict. Studies 1 and 3 showed that people respond to inclusive victimhood narratives that emphasize both ingroup and outgroup suffering with a reduction in competitive victimhood and, in turn, reduced support for aggressive policies—but only when people were relatively less concerned that acknowledgment of outgroup suffering might risk loss of third-party support. Study 2 further found that inclusive narratives reduce conflict for low-power groups, yet without being moderated by concern. Together, these studies show that inclusive victimhood narratives can reduce conflict when people are not concerned about losing third-party support. The important role of third parties in conflict resolution is discussed.