Compassion training in intractable conflict

One of the major problems that societies are facing is intergroup conflicts. To ease tensions, scholars study conflict mechanisms as well as develop evidence-based interventions. Among them, scholars from the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences (CISA) and from the Psychology of Intergroup Conflict and Reconciliation (PICR) dedicated their research to better understand the role of emotions in conflicts and to test emotion-based interventions in order to promote conflict resolution. In this line, researchers from the CISA and PICR have started to collaborate in 2017 and create a research project aiming to test compassion training effects in interpersonal and intergroup conflicts in Switzerland and in Israel. In addition, they want to compare compassion training effects with those of a well-known emotion-based intervention in the field of conflict interventions, the reappraisal training. First steps of this research have been to test in Switzerland compassion training and reappraisal effects on conflicts at the interpersonal level. After promising preliminary results, a study in Israel is planned to investigate compassion training in a real-life intergroup setting: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The main goal is to observe compassion training effects on the attitudes and behaviors of Israelis towards the outgroup, in this case, Palestinian population. To this purpose we plan several short-term research stays to carry out successfully the study creating a vivid exchange between experts of the University of Geneva and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. We truly believe that testing compassion training in a real-life intergroup setting will provide useful and evidence-based guidelines for peacebuilders.


Prof. David Sander, University of Geneva

Prof. Eran Halperin, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Dr. Olga Klimecki, University of Geneva

Patricia Cernadas Curotto, University of Geneva