Perceptions of Shared Morality as an Important Socio-Psychological Mechanism for Finding the Common Ground


  • Sabina Čehajić-Clancy


When we think of human history, it is easy to conclude that violent conflicts are unavoidable. Furthermore, in remembering history, we usually recall violent times and are less likely to remember peaceful societal change. Given the way we remember our history, it is easy to lose sight of the existence of peaceful conflict resolutions or other positive societal changes. The Polish Round Table Talks (RT) that took place in 1989 at times of growing political and economic instabilities serve as an example of peaceful and effective negotiation between two opposing and, one might argue, exclusive ideologies. These talks resulted in an agreement between the Communist government of Poland and the opposition movement Solidarity and paved the road towards the present, democratic and independent Polish state. In this commentary I am going to extrapolate some important socio-psychological mechanisms in the light of contributions made by Janusz Reykowski and Janusz Grzelak - both social psychologists. More specifically, I would like to discuss a specific perception of the other negotiating partner that was activated, formed and maintained during the negotiation, which facilitated the successful outcome. I will argue that the perception of shared morality (perceptions of similarity between the in-group and the out-group on the dimension of morality) was an important socio-psychological mechanism that enabled a stream of other positive psychological processes such as development of trust, as well as cooperative and common-oriented goal tendencies.