Open Minds

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Science  23 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6050, pp. 1677
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6050.1677-e

A disposition toward believing that another person's beliefs are malleable can be conducive to achieving a negotiated settlement in situations of interpersonal conflict. Does a similar disposition toward groups exist, and if so, might it influence one's willingness to negotiate? Halperin et al. (p. 1767, published online 25 August) explored this possibility in the context of conflict in the Middle East by surveying 500 Israeli Jews and found a correlation between a belief in malleability and willingness to compromise. In experimental studies with both Israeli Jews and Palestinians, the belief in malleable versus fixed natures was manipulated, and greater support for a negotiated settlement was measured in subjects whose beliefs had been tilted toward the malleable end of the spectrum.

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