I am a lecturer (assistant professor) at the People and Organizations Department, Surrey Business School, University of Surrey. I received my PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Sheffield in 2015, supervised by Professors Richard Crisp and Eran Halperin. I then held a position as a visiting assistant professor in the Dispute Resolution Research Center, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.
My selection of an academic career stems mainly from my experience growing up within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as by my own deep-rooted moral values. It was a direct result of my belief that both research and teaching can contribute to the improvement of the society in which I reside and to the promotion of the values to which I adhere such as equality, human rights, and peace. Broadly, I see myself as a social psychologist, utilizing psychological theories and conceptions to address real-world, social and political queries. I am interested in elucidating the psychological mechanisms that underlie phenomena such as conflict management, negotiation, decision-making, intergroup relations and political participation. To facilitate this goal, I adopt an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on my background in Political Science, my extensive training and PhD in Social Psychology, and my more recent post doc in the field of management and negotiation. I believe that social and organizational issues cannot be examined without taking into consideration psychological factors and phenomena. On the other hand, I believe psychology loses much of its relevance if it does not address real-world questions of people and group dynamics. Importantly, these two complementary beliefs have guided my research.
In my research I have shown that in intractable conflict, long-term hope is characteristic of people who are inclined to be open to new information supporting peace initiatives (Cohen-Chen, Halperin, Porat, & Bar-Tal, 2014). I have demonstrated that hope is more likely than empathy to motivate people to make concessions when there is an opportunity for conflict de-escalation (Rosler, Cohen-Chen, & Halperin, 2017). With this correlational evidence of the power of hope, I turned my attention to see if I could ameliorate intergroup conflict by experimentally inducing hope and conciliatory attitudes for conflict resolution. In a series of projects, I developed techniques for inducing hope, and demonstrated that increased hope leads to greater support for conciliatory policies and general attitudes toward peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Cohen-Chen, Halperin, Crisp, & Gross, 2014; Cohen-Chen, Crisp, & Halperin, 2015). Across multiple methods such as correlational, observational, and experimental, my studies show that inducing a general perception of the world as ever-changing leads to greater hope for peace, and that this further induces support for concession-making.
Building on these findings, I next examined the influence of hope and support for peace, as expressed by an outgroup, on ingroup hope and conciliatory attitudes (Cohen-Chen, Crisp, & Halperin, 2017). Next, I demonstrated the effect of hope expressions made by leaders on intergroup relations in conflict (Cohen-Chen, Van Kleef, Crisp, & Halperin, 2019). In addition to work on conflict resolution, another line of research focuses on collective action, in which I examined the role of malleability beliefs in promoting efficacy (Cohen-Chen, Halperin, Saguy, & Van Zomeren, 2014). More recently, I demonstrated that efficacy predicts collective action intentions, but only when hope is high (Cohen-Chen & Van Zomeren, 2018).