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Lecture 2

CMN 4131 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Neutral Party, Decision-Making, Cognitive Dissonance

Course Code
CMN 4131
Sherry Ferguson

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January 19
- Prof email:
Understanding Conflict:
Types of conflict, Variables Influencing Conflict, Reasons for Conflict, and Obstacles to
John Keltner’s ‘Struggle Spectrum’
- According to John Keltner, conflict occurs on a continuum, and the chances for peaceful
resolution diminish as you move along the continuum from expression of mild
differences to violence.
- Third party interventions have a good chance of success at some stages, but not at
- Keltner considers that peace does not imply the absence of struggle
- Struggle is part of the human condition
- Rather, peace implies the management of affairs,including the whole range of struggle,
in such a way that there is no destruction of the human condition and potential
- Failure to manage struggle ultimately results on war - involving individuals or societies
Stage 1 of Struggle Spectrum: Expression of Mild Differences
- Parties have different goals, practices, preferences, or time commitments
- Partes deal with each other in a friendly ad cooperative way
- Parties show respect for each other’s POV
- Parties openly share their interests and needs
- Parties seek mutually agreeable positions
- No firm positions are taken
- Parties engage in joint problem solving
Implications for Resolution:
- Parties engage in joint decision making
- Parties may resolve the issues on their own
- There is no need for third party intervention
Stage 2 of Struggle Spectrum: Negotiation Phase
- Mild differences become more pronounced and signs of polarization become obvious to
parties involved and to others
- Statements become more guarded, with parties presenting conditions to the other party
- Both parties begin to select positions and formulate/present persuasive statements in
support of their choices
- Each party begins to try to get concessions from the other party
- Parties continue to seek a solution that is mutually satisfying to themselves and their
- Goals remain mutually inclusive, attitudes remain basically conciliatory, and consensus
is still possible
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- When she realises that he has gone on a date with someone else, video did not go too
much into the second phase because it was just a show of jealousy
- Parties become defensive about their position
- Still keeping other party’s goal in mind (mutually inclusive)
Implications for resolution
- Because polarization is not yet intense and parties still want to find a mutually agreeable
solution, a third party such as a mediator can be useful at this point
Stage 3 of Struggle Spectrum: Bargaining Phase
- Arguments become more heated
- Parties engage in “hard negotiations” or bargaining
- Parties hurl accusations at each other and become defensive in their responses to the
other party
- Parties “dig in” to their positions, become intractable
- Parties begin to mix persuasive efforts with threats, proposals, counter proposals, and
“horse trading”
- Parties drag unrelated “gunnysack” issues into the conflict
- Argument becomes a win-lose situation, with goals becoming mutually exclusive
- Outsiders may try to influence the dispute by insisting that parties follow some rules of
behaviour in their attacks on each other
- E.g. in video last class about parents fighting over custody - both bargaining to find out
which person was trying to get revenge and not care about the child
- ^when defensive, then you don’t care about the other person bc you think you are on
your own. When you perceive the other person as not caring about what you need, what
you want - you shut down and become ‘difficult’
- “Horse trading” - when negotiating on horses, you are unsure which one is the best one
(based on looks// bc it is an animal, you don’t know how it will behave”
- ^therefore when you are buying one, sellers convince buyers that their horse is the best
despite not knowing what the final outcome will be (dishonest move)
- Common in couple fights by bringing up irrelevant problems
- Win-lose = parties cannot see a way for the issue to be resolved in a way deemed
satisfactory for both parties
Implications for Resolution:
- Parties may submit to formal rule-controlled interactions
- There is still a place for a neutral party such as a mediator at this stage
Stage 4 of Struggle Spectrum: Campaign Stage
- Dispute goes “public”, and parties attempt to involve more people in the dispute
- In an effort to garner support for their position, parties may direct their messages more
often to other people than to the opposition
- Parties to the dispute make increasing use of mass and social media (e.g. newspapers,
radio, TV, pamphlets, brochures, signs) and other media for reaching the public (mass or
small meetings)
- Parties may engage in house-to-house solicitation
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find more resources at
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