Conflict & Peacemaking      

What creates conflict?

•  Conflict: A perceived  incompatibility of actions or goals.

Ψ  Social Dilemmas

• Many of the choices that we make in regards to our own self-interest can be collectively punishing.

•  The Prisoner’s Dilemma Cooperation (or its opposite: conflict) can be analysed in game theory by means of a 
non-zero-sum game called the "Prisoner's Dilemma" (Axelrod, 1984). The two players in the game can choose between 
two moves, either "cooperate" or "defect". The idea is that each player gains when both cooperate, but if only one of them 
cooperates, the other one, who defects, will gain more. If both defect, both lose (or gain very little) but not as much as the 
"cheated" cooperator whose cooperation is not returned. 

• Zero-sum; There are two types of games. Zero-sum games are games where the amount of resources is fixed. Whatever 
is gained by one player, must be lost by the other player. Chess, for example, is a zero-sum game: it is impossible for both 
players to win (or to lose). The sum of what is gained (+) & what is lost (-) is zero. This is competition!  Zero-sum games 
(situations) increase conflict.

•  Monopoly if it is not played with the intention of having just one winner, is a non-zero-sum game. Players can cooperate to 
maximize their resources, "to beat the bank" rather than each other (not really the intention of the game but illustrates the 
non-zero-sum principle well). In non-zero-sum games the total amount gained is variable, & so players may all win or lose. 
Non-zero-sum games (situations) reduce conflict. Note: Most real-life conflicts are non-zero sum games.

•  The Tragedy of the Commons is a type of social trap, often economic, that involves a conflict over resources between 
individual interests & the common good. Everyone's business becomes nobody's business. Note: When resources are 
plentiful, self-interest may contribute to the health of the marketplace. Capitalism works.Ψ  Resolving Social Dilemmas

•  Regulate 
 •  Keep groups small 
  •  Communicate 
   •  Change the Payoffs: reward cooperation 
    •  Appeal to Altruistic Norms
 Ψ  Competition
 •  In an experiment to test the intensity of influence competition has on conflict, Muzifer Sherif (1966), used two groups of 
 boys to test if limited resources shared between the two groups would lead to conflict. It did.
Ψ  Perceived Injustice

•  When one feels as though their contribution to the group is worthy of a greater reward, they are either reminded of their 
inadequacies & become submissive to their superiors, use personal attacks or black-mail to get what they want, or actually 
revolt against their superiors & try to overthrow them, (Elaine Hatfield, William Walster, Ellen Pzersheid, 1978). On the other 
hand, it is very unlikely that someone will bring attention to themselves if they feel they are receiving more for their contribution 
than necessary. In these cases many will convince themselves that their work is worthy of extra benefits. Also if one is made 
aware that their skills exceed their rewards they are more likely to argue their worth, “The more competent & worthy people 
feel, (the more they value their inputs), the more they will feel under benefited & thus eager to retaliate” (Ross & others, 1971).

Ψ  Misperception

•  Since conflict is the product of a perceived incompatibility, it is likely that by misperception of others actions, most conflicts 
are created. This coincides with the concept of a self-serving bias, in that we often justify our own actions & take credit for our 
successes but justify our mistakes. At the same time we tend to judge others’ actions or motives more harshly than our own, 
leading us to condemn others prematurely. We can also commit  the fundamental attribution error in our misperceptions giving 
us a one-dimensional perception of another which can be very inaccurate.

•  Mirror Image Perceptions: It is common for two rival groups to hold each other responsible for the same sort of crimes & to 
consider themselves moral & virtuous for the same reasons, (Morton Deutsch, 1986). 

•  Conflicts are often pursued using a politically correct illusion that its the enemy's leaders that are evil & at fault for the conflict 
not their people. This evil leader - good people perception is a fallacy but gives us an opportunity to save the people from their 
bad leaders.
How can peace be achieved?  

Ψ  The four C's of peacemaking: 
     1. Contact 
         2. Cooperation 
             3. Communication 
                 4. Conciliation 
Ψ  Contact  

•  Does desegregation improve racial attitudes? Sometimes. 

•  When does desegregation improve racial attitudes? When there is equal status contact.

Ψ  Cooperation:  

  •  occurs when there is a common external threat. 
   •  occurs when there is a superordinate goal. 
    •  occurs when there is a cooperative learning environment.
Ψ  Communication  

•  Bargain: An agreement between parties (usually arrived at after discussion) fixing obligations of each. 
Bargaining: The negotiation of the terms of a transaction or agreement.  

•  Mediation: A negotiation to resolve differences that is conducted by some impartial third-party.  

•  Arbitration: The hearing & determination of a dispute by an impartial referee agreed to by both parties.

Ψ  Conciliation

•  Two important linkage strategies deserve attention here. One is Graduated Reciprocation In 
Tension-reduction (GRIT), & the other is a Tit-For-Tat (TFT) strategy.

•  In the GRIT strategy, one of the parties in a conflict unilaterally initiates a series of cooperative moves; these are
 announced & reciprocity is invited, but the conciliatory moves are continued for an extended period, even without 
 immediate reciprocity.  
 • The 3 Fs of negotiation: Firm , Fair, & Friendly
•  In the TFT strategy one party initiates a cooperative act & then simply reciprocates the other party's actions, 
 whether a cooperative or a non-cooperative action. 

                                                                      Social Psychology
                                                                        Robert C. Gates
     "Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice."
 -- Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677)