Daniel Shapiro receives award for his innovative work on identity-based conflict

By PON Staffon / International Negotiation, News

Harvard psychologist and PON affiliated faculty member, Daniel L. Shapiro, Ph.D., has been awarded the highly competitive Otto Klineberg Intercultural and International Relations Award by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI).  SPSSI recently announced the award in recognition of his article, “Relational Identity Theory: A Systematic Approach for Transforming the Emotional Dimension of Conflict,” published in the American Psychologist.

Shapiro’s article was chosen from over 40 submissions.  According to SPSSI, the award is given annually to “the best paper or article of the year on intercultural or international relations.”  Among past recipients are Daniel Druckman, Ronald Fisher, Daniel Bar-Tal, and other thought leaders in the field of conflict management.

Professor Shapiro’s article articulates Relational Identity Theory (RIT), a theory he originated to better understand and address the emotional and identity-based aspects of conflict.  He describes a program he created for teaching thought leaders how to apply psychological principles to achieve their aims while also reducing negative outcomes such as violence, social upheaval, and economic displacement. He argues that national and communal bonds are essentially tribal in nature, and he describes how a tribe’s unaddressed relational identity concerns make it susceptible to what he terms the tribes effect, a rigidification of its relational identity. He concludes the article with strategies based on RIT for mitigating the tribes effect and thus enhancing global security.