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Conflict perception: a new scale with evidence from Israel and Palestine

Ibrahim Khatib (Berlin Graduate School for Social Sciences, Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany)
Daphna Canetti (School of Political Science, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel)
Aviad Rubin (School of Political Science, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 4 April 2018

Issue publication date: 16 May 2018




The current work aims to introduce the concept of conflict perception and construct a scale that measures individual differences in perceptions about conflicts along religious, national and material dimensions. The concept and the measure are developed in the context of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.


The research design combines three methodological elements: 14 focus groups in Israel and the West Bank, which represent diversity in place of residence, religion, age and political background; an expert panel review; and a survey of 411 student respondents that was conducted between September 29 and October 9, 2013, among university students in Israel and Palestine.


The findings show that conflict perception is an individual’s subjective view regarding the essence of the conflict and its central issues, the identities of the parties involved and their motivations, which may include material, ideological or symbolic motives, or any combination thereof. A novel scale consisting of five statements that can measure conflict perception that was developed, validated and implemented via a survey sample showed that Palestinians in the West Bank and in Israel have a religious perception of the conflict, whereas Jews have a national perception of the conflict.


First, the paper introduces a new concept that sheds additional light on the micro foundations of peoples’ attitudes in conflict situations. Second, it develops and validates a measurement tool for conflict perception that may be usable, with necessary adjustments, in other conflicts. Third, it demonstrates that parties to the conflict do not necessarily share similar perceptions about the conflict, a finding with far-reaching consequences for conflict resolution at both the scholarly and policy levels.



The authors thank As’ad Ghanem, Nadim Rouhana, Amal Jamal, Mary Totry, Sarah Ozacky-Lazar and the numerous friends and colleagues who have helped along the way, including Carly Wayne, Ohad Shaked, Shani Fachter and participants in the annual conference of the International Society of Political Psychology (Italy, July 2014).


Khatib, I., Canetti, D. and Rubin, A. (2018), "Conflict perception: a new scale with evidence from Israel and Palestine", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 376-397.



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