emotions such as anger, fear, guilt, and despair stimulated a turning point in a conflict transforma-
tion process involving Jewish and Arab students in Israel. It will show how emotional “reappraisal”
(Maiese, 2006, p. 189) played a central role in changing relationships. The paper begins with a
review of the literature on the role of emotion in conflict transformation processes. It then describes
the critical incidents which illustrate the role emotional expression played in changing relationships
for the better. The discussion section analyzes these incidents in light of the literature and sets forth
a number of propositions on engaging emotional reappraisal to facilitate conflict transformation.
2|THE ROLE OF EMOTION IN CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION
The international relations and conflict resolution literature has gravitated from a positivist approach
that sees emotions as objective, fixed phenomena towards a social constructionist approach that
views emotions as a matter of intersubjective interpretation (Nair, 2008). The constructionist
approach claims that there is a false dichotomy between reason and emotion, arguing that emotion
plays an important role in understanding the world (Jones, 2000; Picard & Siltanen, 2013). Jones
(2000) posited six principles of emotional experience: they are socially constructed, elicited by inter-
pretation of events, rule governed, constituted through discourse, a fundamentally moral experience,
and developed through acculturation and learning (Jones, 2000). Linder (2014) defined emotions as
“comprehensive packages of meanings, behaviors, social practices, and norms that crystallize around
primordial emotions”(p. 286) and at the same time being “both hardwired and malleable, and adap-
tive to social and cultural influences”(p. 288). These definitions are particularly important for the
mediation and transformation of conflict because they indicate that emotions, while partially instinc-
tive or automatic, are also dependent on context and subject to control.
Recently researchers have argued that emotions are both an individual and a collective experi-
ence (Baele et al., 2016; Gold, 2015; Kenworthy et al., 2016). In support of the claim that groups
have emotions, Baele et al. (2016) argued that the act of situation appraisal is influenced by a preex-
isting “emotional worldview”(p. 724), which they defined as an overarching cognitive framework
embedded in shared axioms and myths which group members use to interpret events (p. 724). Fur-
thermore, they argued that events trigger a complex set of emotions at varying intensities, creating
an “emotional configuration”experienced at the group level (Baele et al., 2016, p. 724).
Emotions are an active component of individual and group identity because they help people to
make sense of themselves in relation to others and the world in which they live (Bleiker and Hutch-
inson, 2014; Bodtker & Jameson, 2001; Gold, 2015). They play an especially important role in
intractable, identity-based conflicts which are associated with existential needs that trigger powerful
feelings when threatened (Bodtker & Jameson, 2001; Burton, 1990; Rothman, 2012; Shapiro, 2002,
2010). Shapiro (2002, 2010) argued that the gap between the current and the desired state of rela-
tional identity concerns generates emotions that interfere with creative problem solving. Closing
these gaps can lead to emotions that nurture cooperative behavior and integrative solutions.
The literature points to a number of important roles emotions play in mediating conflict transfor-
mation processes. Emotions can be seen as the trigger of conflict (Bodtker & Jameson, 2001; Nair,
2008). According to this view, conflict is latent until parties cross a particular emotional threshold.
As triggers, emotions are also a sign that very important issues and deeply held values are at stake
and need to be addressed (Picard & Siltanen, 2013). Emotions also influence thinking, feeling, and
behavioral dynamics that increase or decrease the willingness and ability of disputants to reach
agreement or even to engage in transformation processes (Halperin, 2014; Halperin et al., 2013;
Jameson et al., 2009; Shapiro, 2010). Finally, attending to the underlying emotions of both parties
352 FRIEDMAN ET AL.