Forgiving, Reconciling, and Peace-Building in Refugee Contexts: Theory, Research, and Data from the War in Syria

  • Raymond F. PaloutzianEmail author
  • Zeynep Sagir
Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS)


This chapter discusses theory and research on forgiving as an emotion and attitude, reconciliatory behavior, and their relationships in war refugees. Issues at individual, group, and international levels, and the possibility of dialogue between people on opposing sides of violent conflicts are addressed. We propose that the notion that forgiveness must precede reconciliation is not effective. Reconciling behaviorally may be more effective in promoting peace, and depending on other factors forgiveness may result. Forgiving is increased when people get beyond the evolved and culturally taught tendency toward in-group bias, as integrative identities and cultures develop along with personal identification with all humanity as one group. These issues were explored in refugees who suffered multiple extreme traumas as victims of the war in Syria that started in 2011, and who lived in Turkey from 0 to 6 years. Their attributions of responsibility for the conflict, intent to transition to their new host culture and keep their home culture, and inclination toward, perceived capability of, and requirements for reconciling or forgiving versus favoring revenge toward the perpetrators are assessed for refugees who acculturated to their new environment by integrating, assimilating, separating, or marginalizing. Syrian war refugee data suggest that assimilating into a new culture promotes near-term peace, but integrating their original and new cultures facilitates long-term peace.


Forgiveness Reconciliation Revenge Refugees In-group bias Acculturation Integration Assimilation Syria War War Victims Forced Migration Peace Promotion 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Westmont CollegeSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.University of Istanbul and Elazig UniversityIstanbulTurkey

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