CANCELLED: Listening in Disagreements: Impact on Speakers' Attitudes and Well-Being

Research Zoom Seminar / GF Forum

Past event — 18 January 2024

Spoken language

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Prof. Dr. Guy Itzchakov

Associate Professor

University of Haifa

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Imagine two people discussing work-related, social, or political views on which they disagree. The dialogue may devolve into an argument, making them feel irritated, bitter, and disconnected. After discussing their differing perspectives, they may become more entrenched in their positions because when one person shares their attitude, the other party thinks about how to refute it. In this case, conversation increases the gap between them. Yet, what if people fundamentally disagree but listen well to one another – providing attention, support, and understanding despite their different attitudes? I will present two projects that focus on the role of high-quality listening during disagreements. The first project (Itzchakov, Weinstein, Leary, Saluk & Amar, in press) tested whether feeling listened to during disagreements can depolarize speakers’ attitudes. Results of four experiments suggest that when speakers receive high-quality listening, with no persuasion attempts from their listeners, they a) perceive that their attitudes are more similar to their listeners, b) perceive a change in their attitudes, and c) report less extreme (polarized) attitudes. These effects were mediated by increased social connection with their listener and enhanced self-insight. The second Project (Saluk, Itzchakov, Weinstein & Amar, data collection) tests the role of high-quality listening during work-related disagreements. This project builds on theorizing regarding integrating self-determination theory and listening (Van Quaquebeke & Felps, 2018; Weinstein et al., 2022). Specifically, in three experiments, speakers who received high-quality listening, compared to lower levels of listening, reported more subjective well-being. This main effect was mediated in parallel by increased basic psychological needs: relatedness, autonomy, and competence. These projects suggest that high-quality listening can facilitate constructive disagreements and create positive change and benefits for speakers.


Guy Itzchakov is an Associate Professor at the University of Haifa, Department of Human Services, where he directs the “Interpersonal Listening and Social Influence” lab. His research focuses on the effects of high-quality listening on facilitating changes in speakers’ emotions, cognitions, and behavior. His research has appeared in leading journals in Applied and Social Psychology, such as the Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, Applied Psychology: An International Review, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Personality, and Social Psychology Bulletin. In 2023, he received the early-career research award from the Attitude and Social Influence Interest group from the Society of Personality and Social Psychology. His research has been funded by grants from the Israel Science Foundation, Binational Science Foundation (Israel-U.S) and Templeton World Charity Foundation.


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Bärbel Wegener

Assistant to Resident Faculty