What is it about?

Focusing on commonalities between oneself and another may make it easier to resolve conflicts. While the "search for common ground" is a popular adage in conflict resolution, little empirical evidence has supported the idea. The present research shows that when faced with negotiating against an outgroup member, focusing on similarities rather than differences creates greater optimism for the negotiation, greater willingness to comprise, and a heightened perception of our negotiation counterpart's intelligence.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that a simple exercise that helps someone focus on their similarities with another individual, rather than their differences, can help resolve conflict. The present study also suggests that focusing on differences may be a default state for people in conflict, and therefore a deliberate practice of focusing on similarities may significantly improve our abilities to compromise and resolve conflicts.


I hope this article furthers our work to find commonalities with those we perceive as different from us, especially when we feel in conflict with those "others."

Jeremy Pollack
Stanford University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Negotiating with those like me: Similarity salience increases positive attitudes in imagined negotiation with an out-group member., Peace and Conflict Journal of Peace Psychology, June 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/pac0000621.
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