Personality dimensions and attitudes towards peace and war

Date09 January 2017
Published date09 January 2017
AuthorHerbert H. Blumberg,Ruth Zeligman,Liat Appel,Shira Tibon-Czopp
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression, conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology, policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
Personality dimensions and attitudes
towards peace and war
Herbert H. Blumberg, Ruth Zeligman, Liat Appel and
Shira Tibon-Czopp
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between major personality dimensions
and attitudes towards peace and war.
Design/methodology/approach Three samples two consisting of British psychology students
(n ¼64 and 121) and one of Israeli students (n¼80), responded to measures of some or all of: five-factor
inventory, SYMLOG trait form, general survey including authoritarianism; attitudes towards peace and war;
specific attitudes towards peace and war policy.
Findings The general attitude measures were associated with the specific attitudes. Both were associated
with authoritarianism but not consistently with other personality dimensions.
Research limitations/implications Descriptive findings might not generalize and need contextualization.
Authoritarianism should be measured in any studies of attitudes related to peace, war, conflict, and
structural violence.
Practical implications Practitioners of peace education may first need to address high authoritarianism
and low integrative complexity. Also, countering structural violence related, for instance, to poverty or
prejudice/discrimination may require a comprehensive approach including collaborative work with clinical
psychologists applying both implicit and explicit assessment tools.
Originality/value Documenting links (and lack of them) among personality variables and attitudes towards
peace and war has practical and theoretical value and may contribute to organizational schemes shaped by
personality structure and bearing implications for negotiations. In terms of a paradigm by Morton Deutsch,
our results show individual differences in, and associations among, variables relating to the remediable
likelihood of parties being differentially likely to find themselves in negatively vs. positively interdependent
situations; and carrying out effective instead of bunglingactions.
Keywords Attitudes, Personality, War, Peace, Traits, Authoritarianism
Paper type Research paper
Substantial rese arch has linked per sonality variabl es with attitudes to wards issues relat ed to
peace and to international aggression including war (see e.g. Blumberg et al., 2006, pp. 11,
21-23, 51, 71-87). The potential association between personality and mainly individual
aggression has been even more heavily researched. In February 2016 the PsycINFO
database of psychological research held over 850 records that had both personality and
aggression as key words. Nevertheless, little contemporary effort has been directed towards
estimating the extent and nature of association between personality factors and attitudes
towards peace and war and, particularly, degree of support for e.g. military action to pre-empt
potential threats.
Like various other dimensions such as masculine-feminine, militarism-pacifism was initially
thought to represent a single bipolar unitary dimension (Droba, 1931; Page, 1931; Thrall and
Blumberg, 1963). Subsequent research has indicated, however, that positive attitudes
towards peace and negative attitudes towards war are in fact largely independent dimensions
(Bizumic et al., 2013).
Received 26 May 2016
Revised 29 July 2016
7 August 2016
7 August 2016
Accepted 8 August 2016
The authors would like to thank
Joanna Britton and Petra Hajdu for
their helpful comments on an
earlier version of this paper. The
authors also thank Ohad Rosen
for collecting most of the Israeli
data. The present paper is based
in part on a paper presented by
Blumberg et al. (2015) prior to
collection of the 2015-2016 data
covered in the present paper.
Readers wishing to use the scales
measuring attitudes towards
peace and war should contact
Boris Bizumic: boris.bizumic@anu.
Herbert H. Blumberg is a
Reader Emeritus at the
Department of Psychology,
Goldsmiths, University of
London, London, UK.
Ruth Zeligman and Liat Appel
are Lecturers, both at the
Department of Psychological
Sciences, Tel Aviv University,
Tel Aviv, Israel.
Shira Tibon-Czopp is a Visiting
Fellow at the Department of
Psychology, Goldsmiths,
University of London,
London, UK.
DOI 10.1108/JACPR-05-2016-0231 VOL. 9 NO. 1 2017, pp.13-23, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599
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