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Psychology Today: The Runaway Train of Conflict

08 Jan 2020
Can it be stopped?

Originally found at Psychology Today, by Katerina Bezrukova

As we write this, the world waits for what might or might not happen next in the conflict between Iran and the US. Not surprisingly, Iran sent several missiles to US military bases in Iraq as a response to the US-sanctioned killing of Iran’s General Soleimani. Apparently, this person was comparable to the Director of the CIA, Secretary of Defense and Vice-President all rolled into one. This is significant stuff that no one expects to end soon.

The escalation we are seeing now in Iran is typical of conflicts—they escalate. In many situations, it seems that conflict can spiral out of control. Yet conflict management researchers have demonstrated that there are ways and approaches to de-escalating or even stopping conflict. The catch is, this same research indicates it takes a lot of guts/strength and conviction to go down this road as people naturally reciprocate negativity with more negativity.

Conflict exists when the behavior of others is perceived to interfere, obstruct or get in the way of your aims, whether the aims are about the control of resources or maintaining a positive view of the self, holding shared/socially validated beliefs or some combination thereof.

Despite the strain that people often feel when they are in conflict, conflict can be an opportunity for growth and development. Big, long conflicts can be managed and even resolved. Think about the history of civil rights which resulted in landmark legislation in the 1960s. We had a history of institutionalized racism and segregation and it took learning by all parties to affect real change.

In a recent article published in Academy of Management Annals which one of us wrote with Matt Cronin of George Mason University, we offered a framework wherein the good, the bad, and the ugly of conflict all operate together over time.

Continue reading the original article at Psychology Today


Read the original research at Academy of Management Annals

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