Dr. Bernhard Leidner and Levi Adelman

Germany 2013

Understanding and Alleviating Competitive Victimhood to Promote Intergroup Conflict Resolution: A Field-Experimental Investigation of Causes of Competitive Victimhood and an Intervention to Counter It


Our project aims to add to the small but growing empirical knowledge base of competitive victimhood and interventions to facilitate intergroup conflict resolution by providing a model that focuses on causes of competitive victimhood’s persistence and people’s resistance to acknowledge outgroup suffering. We then derive from this model an intervention in form of an identity-affirming news report in order to alleviate competitive victimhood and the obstacle it poses to peaceful conflict resolution.

Drawing on and synthesizing previous literature on intergroup relations, conflict, and threat, we hypothesize that the prospect of acknowledging the adversary group’s equal or even greater suffering (i.e. reduction of competitive victimhood) threatens social identity and needs for existential security. Drawing on self- and group-affirmation literature, we hypothesize that affirming people’s identity and their security needs can alleviate the threats otherwise posed by the prospect of acknowledging the adversary group’s equal or even greater suffering (i.e. reduction of CV), and therefore enable people to actually let go off CV, ultimately increasing support for nonviolent conflict resolution and reconciliation. Combining the high internal validity of experiments with the high external validity of field studies, both the model and the intervention are rigorously tested in field experiments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with samples of both Jewish Israelis and Palestinians.

Bernhard Leidner completed his Ph.D. at the New School for Social Research, NY, USA
He is currently an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the Department of Psychology in the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program. His research focuses on processes of social identification and intergroup relations, primarily in the context of large social categories such as nations and ethnic groups. Specifically, his research is at the cross-road of the social psychological areas of norms and morality (e.g., moral disengagement in response to ingroup wrongdoings), intergroup threat (e.g., threat-induced shifting of moral principles such as fairness or loyalty), and social justice (e.g., reparations after ingroup wrongdoings; conflict resolution). Some of the topics Dr. Leidner investigated/s include: reactions to ingroup-committed torture; American justice appraisals after atrocities committed in Iraq and Afghanistan; reconciliation strategies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is currently interested in the search and need for meaning as motives for human ‘warlikeness’ and peacefulness.

Dr. Bernhard Leidner Curriculum Vitae in PDF

Levi Adelman Curriculum Vitae in PDF

Bernhard Leidner and Levi Adelman’s Final Report

The Foundation acknowledges that Dr. Bernhard Leidner and Levi Adelman have successfully completed their project.