What Is Belief Perseverance and How It Affects Conflict Resolution

In our training sessions, we talk about PROGRAMS. Belief perseverance is one of those programs that may serve as an obstacle in conflict resolution. Let us take a closer look.

Mia Theresa Corpus

1/3/20223 min read

gray boulder on body of water
gray boulder on body of water

Why does belief perseverance occur in conflict resolution? One reason is that people often view their beliefs as an integral part of their identity. Therefore, when their beliefs are challenged, they may perceive it as a personal attack, which can be difficult to tolerate. Additionally, people often filter information through a biased lens that is consistent with their beliefs, making it more difficult to recognize contradictory evidence.

How can we overcome belief perseverance in conflict resolution?

1. Identify the underlying beliefs: To overcome belief perseverance, it is essential to understand what beliefs are driving the conflict. Identify the beliefs of all parties involved in the conflict and examine them carefully to see where they may be in conflict with each other.

2. Encourage open-mindedness: Encouraging open-mindedness can help individuals approach the conflict with a more flexible and receptive mindset. Participants should be encouraged to explore the context and nuances of their beliefs, and to consider alternative viewpoints.

3. Foster empathy: Empathy is a crucial component of conflict resolution. When participants are able to put themselves in the shoes of others, they are more apt to view the conflict from multiple perspectives. Empathy can be fostered through active listening and engagement.

4. Present new information: In some cases, belief perseverance can be overcome by presenting new and compelling information. It can be helpful to present information that is consistent with the beliefs of the participants, rather than directly contradicting them. In this way, it is possible to introduce new perspectives that do not necessarily challenge deeply held beliefs.

5. Encourage self-reflection: Encouraging participants to engage in self-reflection can help them recognize and correct bias and provide an opportunity for participants to revise outdated beliefs.

What can mediators do?

To elevate conflict resolution, it is important for mediators to go beyond just addressing the surface-level problems of the dispute. Simply addressing positions and statements may result in belief perseverance, where the parties involved become impenetrable to any argument that might threaten their beliefs and perspectives. One way to overcome this challenge and facilitate resolution is for mediators to bring the conversation to an ontological level, where participants can discuss their values that underpin their current beliefs. For instance, mediators can ask the conflicting parties to identify what they care about the most, what drives their actions, or what experiences have shaped their values. By bringing the level of discussion to shared values, participants may better understand each other's perspectives and find common ground to build upon. Additionally, mediators can encourage active listening and respect, reframe issues, ask open-ended questions, help parties brainstorm solutions, identify common ground, manage emotions, and provide a safe space for discussion. These steps, coupled with the focus on values, can lead to a more constructive and successful conflict resolution.

Belief perseverance is a common problem that can impede conflict resolution. It is critical for individuals involved in conflicts to recognize their biases and to approach the situation with an open, empathetic, and reflective mindset. By doing so, participants can overcome belief perseverance and increase the chances of a successful resolution.

Conflict resolution is a beautiful, magical process once parties are able to navigate opposing viewpoints, recognize potential biases, and adapt to changing conditions. Unfortunately, collaboration does not always happen automatically. Some level of preparatory work from the mediator and the parties will be required.

One common challenge in resolving conflict is the phenomenon of belief perseverance, which refers to the tendency of individuals to maintain their beliefs despite contradictory evidence. This article will explore belief perseverance in the context of conflict resolution and offer strategies for overcoming it.

Belief perseverance occurs when people are presented with evidence that is contrary to their beliefs, but they continue to hold onto those beliefs nonetheless. This can be a significant problem for conflict resolution because it can lead to impasses and even exacerbate the conflict. People may become more entrenched in their positions, more likely to reject opposing views, and less likely to find common ground.