Sacred bounds on rational resolution of violent political conflict

Jeremy Ginges*, Scott Atran, Douglas Medin, Khalil Shikaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

244 Scopus citations


We report a series of experiments carried out with Palestinian and Israeli participants showing that violent opposition to compromise over issues considered sacred is (i) increased by offering material incentives to compromise but (ii) decreased when the adversary makes symbolic compromises over their own sacred values. These results demonstrate some of the unique properties of reasoning and decision-making over sacred values. We show that the use of material incentives to promote the peaceful resolution of political and cultural conflicts may backfire when adversaries treat contested issues as sacred values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7357-7360
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 1 2007


  • Cultural conflict
  • Middle East conflict
  • Negotiation
  • Sacred values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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