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Don’t we have a right to get angry? Integrating emotions into international mediation studies

Laurie Nathan (Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, USA)
Joel M. Devonshire (Department of Psychology, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, USA)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 2 May 2023

Issue publication date: 15 January 2024

113

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to critique the rationalist theoretical framework of international mediation, which ignores emotions in analyzing the decision by conflict parties to pursue a negotiated settlement or continue fighting, and to present an alternative framework that integrates emotions.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on psychology research on emotions and conflict to develop an emotionally informed framework for analyzing conflict parties’ decision-making regarding a settlement. It demonstrates the framework’s validity and value through a case study of the 2000 Camp David mediation to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

Findings

A rationalist approach to mediation does not have adequate explanatory and predictive power theoretically. In practice, it can reduce the prospect of success.

Research limitations/implications

The paper highlights the necessity for mediation researchers to study the effects of emotion, draw on psychology studies on conflict and explore the emotional implications of different mediation strategies and tactics.

Practical implications

The framework highlights the challenge of designing and conducting mediation in a way that cultivates emotions favorable to a settlement and lessens emotions unfavorable to a settlement.

Originality/value

This is the first study, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, to critique the rationalist framework of international mediation studies and develop an alternative framework that integrates emotions.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the following colleagues for their constructive feedback on earlier drafts of this paper: Chris Ankersen, Lee Anna Clark, Jeremy Graham, Asher Kaufman, Laura Miller-Graff, Anne Mische, Andy Owsiak, Jeremi Panganiban and two anonymous reviewers for IJCM. We also pay tribute to our friend and early collaborator, Majd “Jude” Alshoufi, who tragically passed away on 2 April 2021.

Citation

Nathan, L. and Devonshire, J.M. (2024), "Don’t we have a right to get angry? Integrating emotions into international mediation studies", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 81-103. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCMA-08-2022-0135

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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