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Extending the Needs-Based Model of Reconciliation to ambivalent contexts: The emotional needs of adversaries who simultaneously serve as both victims and perpetrators

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Reconciliation for psychological needs

An EU-funded initiative sought was to promote reconciliation in diverse contexts of intergroup and interpersonal conflicts.

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Reconciliation constitutes the process of restoring harmonious relations to heal emotional and psychological wounds. In an attempt to identify ways to eradicate emotional barriers to harmonious relations between victims and perpetrators, the needs-based model of reconciliation (NBMR) was developed. With this model, victims are able to regain their sense of agency and perpetrators have an opportunity to restore their moral identity. So far, the scope of the model has been limited as a result of its focus on clear-cut contexts of victim and perpetrator roles. Therefore, the NBMR AND AMBIVALENCE (Extending the needs-based model of reconciliation to ambivalent contexts: The emotional needs of adversaries who simultaneously serve as both victims and perpetrators) project aimed to improve this. In particular, this project worked to identify the emotional needs of adversaries and develop interventions to overcome psychological barriers to reconciliation. Psychological needs and the behaviours of those who are both victims and perpetrators (known as duals) comprised the first set of studies. Focusing on both interpersonal and intergroup transgressions revealed the heightened needs of duals in terms of empowerment and acceptance, however, duals' need for power led to greater antisocial and vengeful behaviour, whereas their need for acceptance failed to lead into more prosocial behaviour. This pattern of behaviour often leads to ‘competitive victimhood’, a term denoting the efforts of conflicting parties to establish that they suffered greater injustice. Next steps in this project involved examination of the effectiveness of strategies aimed to restore duals' sense of agency. A series of studies, focusing on various intergroup and interpersonal conflicts, found that affirming duals' agency successfully transformed their relationship-destructive tendencies into more constructive ones. Overall, the work can contribute to the understanding of the psychological needs of conflicting parties and how they translate into anti- or pro-social behaviours. Furthermore, it pinpoints strategies that can replace the vicious cycle of mutual transgressions and competition over the victim status with goodwill and pro-sociality.


Reconciliation, intergroup and interpersonal conflicts, emotional and psychological wounds , emotional barriers, emotional needs

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