Fighting Polarization at the Workplace: What this Study on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Tells Us About Legitimizing Others’ Narratives

Summary of:

Mana, A., Srour, A., & Sagy, S. (2019). A sense of national coherence and openness to the “other’s” collective narrative: The case of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 25(3), 226–233. https://doi.org/10.1037/pac0000391

Background & Theory

Sense of national coherence (SONC) is defined as an enduring tendency to perceive one’s national group as comprehensible, manageable, and meaningful. The purpose of this study was to see its role as a mediator between levels of conservativeness (as measured by voting behavior and religious grouping) and the tendency to delegitimize the “other’s” collective narratives in the context of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

Research Question(s)

The researchers hypothesized that-

    1. SONC will be negatively related to legitimizing the other’s collective narratives.

Methods

SONC was understood as having a dual role as a resilience concept and as a potential obstacle for a peace process in conflict areas. The research participants included 528 Israeli Jewish adults, almost half males (49.2%). About 46% identified as secular, 17.5% as traditional, 16% as religious, 10% as ultra-Orthodox. The survey Instruments included a SONC questionnaire, Perceptions of Collective Narratives, Voting behavior, and Religious grouping.

Results

The researchers found a significant difference between the independent variables “voting behavior” and “religious grouping.” Significant differences in SONC levels were found between voting categories: right-wing voters reported significantly higher SONC than center party voters, and the latter reported significantly higher SONC than left-wing voters. Their hypothesis regarding high SONC and legitimizing others’ narratives was also supported.

How This Translates for the Workplace

  1. Reduce polarization at the workplace- Ideological divisions amongst employees is common, but it’s up to the workplace, its culture, and management to oversee how these differences are tackled. PPS’s founder Jeremy Pollack has written about this several times, suggesting that having an open mind, being willing to learn, and not convincing others is crucial in discussions on ideological differences. He also advises employees not to equate positions with values and not to assume the worst.
  2. Regard for others’ narratives-  As a company culture, it can be healthy for management to consciously work on building a culture of dialogue so that employees can interact, communicate, and have regard for the point of view of the multiple departments and teams at the company. A norm must be built over time to facilitate inclusivity and conversations across teams and even cultural differences. We at PPS offer training for workplaces in diversity, inclusion, as well as conflict resolution. Contact us to make your workplace more inclusive!
  3. Workplace SONC– If a workplace’s sense of coherence is high in terms of its identity as the company itself, belief in its product and services, it can be positive for unity. However, organizations must be careful so as to not delegitimize the narrative, experience, or work of other organizations. This is especially true if the workplace seeks to build a monopoly or sabotage the efforts of other companies, which often happens in highly competitive environments.

Anupriya Kukreja

Anupriya Kukreja is a graduate in Political Science and Psychology from Ashoka University in India. She has interned at Hospitals in their psychology departments and worked at reputed policy organizations, as well as been an Albright Fellow at Wellesley College. At PPS, she examines the latest research in international conflict and writes about how such methods may apply to conflict in the workplace. She is also a part of APA Division 48’s official Newsletter "The Peace Psychologist’s" editorial team. Her long-term career goal is to apply the lens of Behaviour science to Public Policy, Conflict Resolution, and Organizational Transformation.

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