The Ethos of Intractable Interethnic Conflict: Research Approaches and Prospects

Cover Page

Cite item


The present article deals with the concept of ‘ethos’ as applied to intractable interethnic conflicts - this topic has hardly ever been addressed in Russian scientific literature. The ethos of conflict is defined as a system of social beliefs and myths shared by a large group of people involved in a long-term intractable conflict and closely connected with the history of the conflict that dominates in this society, i.e. the collective memory of it. The concept of ‘intractable interethnic conflict’ was introduced into Russian psychology by T.G. Stefanenko, who began to study the phenomenology of such conflicts at the Department of Social Psychology of Lomonosov Moscow State University. Following the line, the article introduces the reader to modern research in this area. In the first part of the work, the author gives a definition of an intractable conflict, analyzes D. Bar-Tal’s theory of the ethos of conflict and describes methods for studying it applied in foreign social psychology. The author also describes the content of eight topics, around which the beliefs that make up the ethos of conflict are grouped. The second part of the article deals with the critics of contemporary ethos of conflict researches and new approaches to this phenomenon. The following three current trends in studying the ethos of conflict are highlighted: the first one is associated with an attempt to explain the ethos of conflict stability within the categories of J. Jost’s system justification theory (SJT); the second one is based on the assumption that the beliefs of members of a conflicting group are not uniform; therefore, it is important to study not only the prevailing social point of view on the conflict but also alternative views of minor or even outsider groups (rather opposing the ethos), because it is often an alternative view that can help out of a seemingly insoluble situation; and the last one is connected with research at the intersection of the phenomenology of the ethos of conflict and collective memory.

About the authors

Elena O. Golynchik

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Author for correspondence.

Ph.D. in Psychology, is Associate Professor at Social Psychology Department of Faculty of Psychology

11 Mokhovaya St., bldg. 9, Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation


  1. Altemeyer, B. (1998). The other “authoritarian personality”. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (vol. 30, pp. 48–92). San Diego: Academic.
  2. Bamberg, M.G.W., & Andrews, M. (2004). Considering counter-narratives: Narrating, Resisting, Making Sense. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  3. Bar-Tal, D. (2007). Sociopsychological foundations of intractable conflict. American Beha- vioral Scientist, 50(11), 1430–1453.
  4. Bar-Tal, D. (2013). Intractable conflict: Socio-Psychological Foundations and Dynamics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  5. Bar-Tal, D., & Halperin, E. (2011). Socio-psychological barriers to conflict resolutions. In D. Bar-Tal (Ed.), Intergroup Conflicts and Their Resolution (pp. 217–240). New York: Taylor & Francis.
  6. Bar-Tal, D., Sharvit, K., Zafran, A., & Halperin, E. (2012). Ethos of conflict: The concept and its measurement. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 18(1), 40–61.
  7. Bonanno, G.A., & Jost, J.T. (2006). Conservative shift among high-exposure survivors of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 28(4), 311–323.
  8. Bovina, I.B. (2010). Theory of social representations: History and the actual development. Sociological Journal, (3), 5–20. (In Russ.)
  9. Cardenas, M., Paez, D., & Rime. B. (2013). Transitional justice processes, shared narrative memory about past collective violence and reconciliation: The case of the Chilean “Truth and Reconciliation” and “Political Imprisonment and Torture” commissions. In R. Cabecinhas, L. Abadia (Eds.), Narrative and social memory: theoretical and metho- dological approaches (pp. 61–76). Braga: Communication and Society Research Centre.
  10. Cardenas, M., Paez, D., Rime, B., & Arnoso, M. (2015). How Transitional Justice Processes and Official Apologies Influence Reconciliation: The Case of the Chilean “Truth and Reconciliation” and “Political Imprisonment and Torture” Commissions. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 25(6), 515–530.
  11. Cohrs, J.Ch, Ulug, Ö.M., Stahel, L., & Kislioglu, R. (2015). Ethos of Conflict and Beyond: Differentiating Social Representations of Conflict. In E. Halperin, K. Sharvit (Eds.), Social Psychology of Intractable Conflict. Celebrating the Legacy of Daniel Bar-Tal (vol. 1, pp. 33–45). Springer: Switzerland.
  12. Coleman, P.T. (2014). Intractable conflict. In M. Deutsch, P.T. Coleman, E.C. Marcus (Eds.), The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice (pp. 708–743). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  13. Dontsov, A.I., & Stefanenko, T.G. (2017). Cultural memory of genocide and ethnic identity of Russian Armenians. Human Capital, (11), 69–75. (In Russ.)
  14. Dresler-Hawke, E., & Liu, J.H. (2006). Collective shame and the positioning of German national identity. Psicologia Politica, 32, 131–153.
  15. Golynchik, E.O. (2015). Kollektivnyye perezhivaniya trudnorazreshimykh sotsial'nykh konfliktov. In T.G. Stefanenko & S.A. Lipatov (Eds.), Kollektivnyye Perezhivaniya Sotsial'nykh Problem (pp. 117–149). Moscow: Smysl Publ. (In Russ.)
  16. Golynchik, E.O. (2018). Potential of qualitative methods in the modern research of conflict perception. Social Psychology and Society, 9(3), 53–61. (In Russ.)
  17. Gulevich, O., Nevryuev, A.N., & Sarieva I. (2019). War As A Method Of Conflict Resolution: The Link Between Social Beliefs, Ideological Orientations And Military Attitudes In Russia. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology. In Press.
  18. Gulevich, O.A. (2017). Psikhologiya Mezhgruppovykh Otnosheniy. Moscow: Yurait Publ. (In Russ.)
  19. Gulevich, O.A., & Nevryuev, A.N. (2015). Social Beliefs and Evaluation of Military Intervention in Other Countries Affairs: The Role of Authoritarianism and National Identification. Psychology. Journal of the Higher School of Economics, 12(3), 52–68. (In Russ.)
  20. Halperin E. (2016). Emotion in Conflict: Inhibitors and Facilitators of Peace Making. New York: Rouledge.
  21. Halperin, E. (2014). Collective emotions and emotion regulation in intractable conflicts. In Ch. von Scheve, M. Salmela (Eds.), Collective Emotions. Perspectives from Psychology, Philosophy, and Sociology (pp. 281–298). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  22. Hamber, B. (2012). Conflict museums, nostalgia, and dreaming of never again. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 18(3), 261–281.
  23. Hennes, E.P., Nam, H.H., Stern, C., & Jost, J.T. (2012). Not all ideologies are created equal: Epistemic, existential, and relational needs predict system-justifying attitudes. Social Cognition, 30(6), 669–688.
  24. Jost, J.T., Gaucher, D, & Stern, C. (2015a). “The world isn’t fair”: A system justification perspective on social stratification and inequality. In J. Davidio, & J. Simpson (Eds.). APA Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology (vol. 2, pp. 317–340). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  25. Jost, J.T., Stern, Ch., & Sterling, J. (2015b). Ethos of Conflict: A System Justification Perspective. In E. Halperin, K. Sharvit (Eds.). Social Psychology of Intractable Conflict. Celebrating the Legacy of Daniel Bar-Tal (vol. 1, pp. 47–59). Springer: Switzerland.
  26. Lavi, I., Canetti, D., Sharvit, K., Bar-Tal, D., & Hobfoll, S.E. (2014). Protected by ethos in a protracted conflict? A comparative study among Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 58(1), 68–92.
  27. Liu, J.H., Paez, D. et al. (2012). Cross-cultural dimensions of meaning in the evaluation of events in world history? Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 43(2), 251–272.
  28. Marques, J., & Paez, D. (2008). Subjective group’s dynamic: A theoretical framework for the black sheep effect. Bilans et Perspective en Psychologie Sociale, 62, 71–-116.
  29. Marques, J., Paez, D., Valencia, J., & Vincze, O. (2006). Effects of group membership on the transmission of negative historical events. Psicologia Politica, 32, 79–105.
  30. Páez, D., & Liu, J.H. (2015). The Collective Remembering of Conflict and Its Role in Fueling an Ethos of Conflict in Society. In E. Halperin, K. Sharvit (Eds.), Social Psychology of Intractable Conflict. Celebrating the Legacy of Daniel Bar-Tal (vol. 1, pp. 61–75). Springer: Switzerland.
  31. Potanina, A.M. (2018). An image of an intractable intergroup conflict in the Russian media. Human Capital, (7), 94–103. (In Russ.)
  32. Rosoux, V. (2001). National identity in France and Germany: from mutual exclusion to negotiation. International Negotiation, 6(2), 175–198.
  33. Rosoux, V. (2004). Human rights and the work of memory in international relations. International Journal of Human Rights, 3(2), 159–170.
  34. Stefanenko, T.G. (2014). Etnopsikhologiya. Moscow: Aspekt Press. (In Russ.)
  35. Stefanenko, T.G., Dontsov, A.I., & Dontsov, D. A. (2017a). Genocide as a historical and political factor of collective memory of Russian Armenians. Human Capital, (12), 3–9. (In Russ.)
  36. Stefanenko, T.G., Tumgoeva, T.A., & Kotova, M.V. (2017b). The Ingush’s cultural memory and social identity as a representative of repressed ethnic group. National Psychological Journal, (4), 45–56. (In Russ.)
  37. Stephenson, W. (1955). The study of behavior: Q technique and its methodology. American Journal of Sociology, 61, 67–69.
  38. Yemel'yanova, T.P. (2016). Sotsial'nyye Predstavleniya: Istoriya, Teoriya i Empiricheskiye Issledovaniya. Moscow: Institut psikhologii RAN Publ. (In Russ.)
  39. Yemel'yanova, T.P. (2019). Kollektivnaya Pamyat' o Sobytiyakh Otechestvennoy Istorii. Moscow: Institut psikhologii RAN Publ. (In Russ.)

Copyright (c) 2020 Golynchik E.O.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies