Chapter 13-Conflicts and Peacemaking
What Creates Conflict?
• Social trap-a situation in which the conflicting parties, by each rationally pursuing its
self-interest, become caught in mutually destructive behavior. Examples include the
Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Tragedy of the Commons
• Tragedy of the Commons- the “commons” is any shared resource, including air, water,
energy, and food supplies. The tragedy occurs when individuals consume more than their
share, with the cost of their doing so dispersed among all, causing the ultimate collapse of
• When people compete for scarce resources, human relations often sink into prejudice and
hostility. In his famous experiments, Muzafer Sherif found that win-lose competition
quickly made strangers into enemies, triggering outright warfare even among normally
• In real life we can avoid such traps such as establishing rules that regulate self-serving
behavior; by keeping social groups small so people feel responsibility for one another, by
enabling communication, by changing payoffs, etc.
• Non-zero-sum games- games in which outcomes need not sum to zero. With cooperation,
both can win with competition, both can lose (also called mixed-motive situations)
• Mirror-image perceptions: reciprocal views of each other often held by parties in conflict,
for example, each may view itself as moral and peace-loving and the other as evil and
• Often, conflicting parties have mirror-image perceptions. When both sides believe “we
are peaceful—they are hostile” each may treat the other in ways that provoke
confirmation of its expectations.
• Conflicts also arise when people feel unjustly treated.According to equity theory, people
define justice as the distribution of rewards in proportion to one’s contributions. Conflicts
occur when people disagree on the extent of their contributions and thus on the equity of