Although many plans for peace in the Middle East have been proposed over the years, none have seriously considered the psychological needs that promote conflict and violence, and thus, far none have been successful. This chapter uses Terror Management Theory, which is a general theory of the role of culture and self-esteem in providing psychological security, to shed light on forces that motivate and perpetuate the ongoing cycle of violence in this region. From this perspective, threats to one's cultural worldviews and self-esteem promote violence because they undermine the ability of these psychological entities to provide the protection from anxiety that is needed for psychological well-being and effective functioning. Consequently, people disparage and lash out at those who threaten their worldviews and self-esteem. Research exploring the role of worldviews and self-esteem in providing security and the impact of threats to this security in promoting violence is reviewed, with special emphasis on the operation of these processes in promoting support for violence against perceived enemies in Israel, Iran, and the United States. This analysis also suggests factors that reduce support for violence; research demonstrating the impact of activating compassionate religious values, a sense of shared humanity, close interpersonal attachments, and removing the association between lofty values and violence is discussed.
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