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Title: Social-psychological aspects of intergroup conflict and reconciliation in Northern Ireland : The role of trust and forgiveness.
Author: Myers, Elissa
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis aimed to investigate the concepts oftrust and forgiveness, in the context of post-conflict reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Chapter 1 gives an overview of the historical background ofthe conflict in Northern Ireland, the current situation in terms of the divided relationship between the Catholic and Protestant communities and argues that reconciliation initiatives need to encompass social, psychological and emotional aspects of the conflict. Chapter 2 outlines the theoretical framework for the empirical research in the following chapters. Social-psychological theories of conflict are discussed, with particular emphasis on the social identity perspective. These theories are then applied to the conflict, intergroup relations and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. The concepts oftrust and forgiveness are defined and conceptualised from this theoretical background. Chapters 3, 4 and 5 present empirical research which investigates aspects of trust and forgiveness in the context ofNorthern Ireland. Studies 1 and 2 examined the evaluation of the extension oftrust and distrust to the outgroup, in relation to level ofthreat to one's community and strength of group identification. The findings from Studies 1 and 2 demonstrate that group identification is a predictor of evaluations of the extension of trust or distrust toward the outgroup under high! low threat; the extension of distrust toward the outgroup elicited a greater negative evaluation in terms of damage to intergroup relations than the extension of trust. Study 3 investigated the mediating role of group-level forgiveness and guilt in the relationship between victirnhood, exposure to violence and group identity, on the one hand, and mild psychiatric morbidity on the other. Results from Study 3 suggest that forgiveness and guilt can act as mediators in the relationship between impact of ethno-political conflict and mental health, at the group-level. Studies 4, 5 and 6 investigated the mediators o(the relationship between cross-community contact (in the form of cross-group friendship) and ingroup identification on the one hand, and intergroup forgiveness and outgroup trust on the other. Together results from these studies showed that collective guilt, perspective-taking and empathic affect mediate the relationship between cross-group friendship and group identification on the one hand, and intergroup forgiveness and outgroup trust, on the other. Together, the findings from this thesis further our knowledge of the concepts of trust and forgiveness in the context ofconflict and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Extensions of distrust to the outgroup were evaluated as damaging to intergroup relations between the two communities. Forgiveness was found to mediate the relationship between exposure to the conflict and well-being. Crossgroup friendship, group identification, collective guilt, perspective-taking and empathic affect were found to be important predictors and mediators of outgroup trust and intergroup forgiveness. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings for intergroup relations are discussed, along with directions for future research in this area.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available