What creates conflict?

:H AFTER ^ ri • •ID Conflict and

Peacema ki If you want peace, work for justice.”


What creates conflict?

How can peace be achieved?

Postscript: The conflict between individual and communal rights

There is a speech that has been spoken in many languages by the leaders of many countries. It goes like this; “The intentions of our country are entirely peaceful. Yet, we are also aware that other

^nations, with their new weapons, threaten us. Thus we must defend

iourselves against attack. By so doing, we shall protect our way of

jlife and preserve the peace” (Richardson, I960}. Almost every nation

^claims concern only for peace but, mistrusting other nations, arms

itself in self-defense. The result is a world that has been spending

$5 billion per day on arms and armies while hundreds of millions die of

malnutrition and untreated disease (SIPRI, 2011).

The elements of such conflict (a perceived incompatibility of

actions or goals) are similar at many levels: conflict between nations in

an arms race, between religious factions disputing points of doctrine,

between corporate executives and workers disputing salaries, and

between bickering spouses. People in conflict perceive that one side s

gain is the other’s loss:

• “We want peace and security.” “So do we, but you threaten us.”

• “I’d like the music off.” “I’d like it on.”

• “We want more pay.” “We can’t afford it.”

A relationship or an organization without conflict is probably apa-

hetic. Conflict signifies involvement, commitment, and caring. If conflict

482 Part Three Social Relations

As civil rights leaders know, creatively managed con­ flicts can have constructive outcomes.

conflict A perceived incompatibility of actions or goals.

peace A condition marked by low levels of hostility and aggression and by mutually beneficial relationships.

is understood and recognized, it can end

oppression and stimulate renewed and

improved human relations. Harmony

occurs when justice and mutual respect

prevail but also when “everyone knows

their place” in an unjust world (Dixon &

others, 2010). Without conflict, people

seldom face and resolve their problems.

Genuine peace is more than the sup­

pression of open conflict, more than a

fragile, superficial calm. Peace is the

outcome of a creatively managed con­

flict. Peace is the parties reconciling

their perceived differences and reaching

genuine accord. “We got our increased

pay. You got your increased profit. Now each of us is helping the other achieve the

organization’s goals.” Peace, says peace researcher Royce Anderson (2004), “is a

condition in which individuals, families, groups, communities, and/or nations experi­

ence low levels of violence and engage in mutually harmonious relationships.”

In this chapter we explore conflict and peacemaking by asking what factors create

or exacerbate conflict, and what factors contribute to peace:

• What social situations feed conflict?

• How do misperceptions fuel conflict?

• Does contact with the other side reduce conflict?

• When do cooperation, communication, and mediation enable reconciliation?

WHAT CREATES CONFLICT?__________ I Explain what feeds conflict.

Social-psychological studies have identified several ingredients of conflict. What’s striking (and what simplifies our task) is that these ingredients are common to all levels of social conflict, whether international, intergroup, or interpersonal.

Social Dilemmas Several of the problems that most threaten our human future—nuclear arms, cli­ mate change, overpopulation, natural-resource depletion—arise as various parties pursue their self-interests, ironically, to their collective detriment. One individual may think, “It would cost me a lot to buy expensive greenhouse emission controls. Besides, the greenhouse gases I personally generate are trivial.” Many others reason

483Conflict and Peacemaking

similarly, and the result is a warming climate, melting ice cover, rising seas, and more extreme weather.

In some societies, parents benefit by having many children who can assist with the family tasks and provide security in their old age. But when most families have many children generation after generation, the result is the collective devastation of overpopulation. Choices that are individually rewarding become collectively pun­ ishing. We therefore have a dilemma: How can we reconcile individual self-interest with communal well-being?

To isolate and study that dilemma, social psychologists have used laboratory games that expose the heart of many real social conflicts. “Social psychologists who study conflict are in much the same position as the astronomers,” noted conflict researcher Morton Deutsch (1999). “We cannot conduct true experiments with large-scale social events. But we can identify the conceptual similarities between the large scale and the small, as the astronomers have between the planets and Newton’s apple. That is why the games people play as subjects in our laboratory may advance our understanding of war, peace, and social justice.”

Let’s consider two laboratory games that are each an example of a social trap: the Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Tragedy of the Commons.


This dilemma derives from an anecdote concerning two suspects being questioned separately by the district attorney (DA) (Rapoport, 1960). The DA knows they are jointly guilty but has only enough evidence to convict them of a lesser offense. So the DA creates an incentive for each one to confess privately:

• If Prisoner A confesses and Prisoner B doesn’t, the DA will grant immunity to A and will use A’s confession to convict B of a maximum offense (and vice versa if B confesses and A doesn’t).

», • If both confess, each will receive a moderate sentence. F • If neither prisoner confesses, each will be convicted of a lesser crime and i receive a light sentence.

The matrix of Figure 13.1 summarizes the choices. If you were a prisoner faced with such a dilemma, with no chance to talk to the other prisoner, would you confess?

Prisoner A

Confesses Doesn’t confess


Doesn’t confess

10 years

Chapter 13

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.

FIGURE:: 13.1 The Classic Prisoner’s Dilemma In each box, the number above the diagonal is prisoner A’s outcome. Thus, if both prisoners confess, both get five years. If neither confesses, each gets a year. If one confesses, that prisoner is set free in exchange for evidence used to convict the other of a crime bringing a 10-year sentence. If you were one of the prisoners, unable to communicate with your fellow prisoner, would you confess?

484 Part Three Social Relations

FIGURE:: 13.2 Laboratory Version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma The numbers represent some reward, such as money. In each box, the number above the diagonal lines is the outcome for person A. Unlike the classic Pris­ oner’s Dilemma (a one-shot deci­ sion), most laboratory versions involve repeated plays.

Response 1 (defect)

Person A

iponse 1 Respo (defect) (coopera-^


Response 2 (cooperate)



Many people say they would confess to be granted immunity, even though mutual nonconfession elicits lighter sentences than mutual confession. Perhaps this is because (as shown in the Figure 13.1 matrix) no matter what the other prisoner decides, each is better off confessing than being convicted individually. If the other also confesses, the sentence is moderate rather than severe. If the other does not confess, one goes free.

University students have faced variations of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, with the choices being to defect or to cooperate, and the outcomes not being prison terms but chips, money, or course points. As Figure 13.2 illustrates, on any given decision, a person is better off defecting (because such behavior exploits the other’s cooperation or protects against the other’s exploitation). However—and here’s the rub—by not cooperating, both parties end up far worse off than if they had trusted each other and thus had gained a joint profit. This dilemma often traps each one in a maddening predicament in which both realize they could mutually profit. But unable to commu­ nicate, and mistrusting each other, they often become “locked in” to not cooperating. Outside the university, examples abound: seemingly intractable and costly conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians over borders, U.S. Republicans and Democrats over taxation and deficits, and professional athletes and team owners over pay.

Punishing another’s lack of cooperation might seem like a smart strategy, but in the laboratory it can have counterproductive effects (Dreber & others, 2008). Punish­ ment typically triggers retaliation, which means that those who punish tend to esca­ late conflict, worsening their outcomes, while nice guys finish first. What punishers see as a defensive reaction, recipients see as an aggressive escalation (Anderson & others, 2008). When hitting back, they may hit harder while seeing themselves as merely returning tit for tat. In one experiment, London volunteers used a mechanical device to press back on another’s finger after receiving pressure on their own. While seeking to reciprocate with the same degree of pressure, they typically responded with 40 percent more force. Thus, touches soon escalated to hard presses, much like a child saying “I just touched him, and then he hit me!” (Shergill & others, 2003). THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS

Many social dilemmas involve more than two parties. Climate change stems from deforestation and from the carbon dioxide emitted by vehicles, furnaces, and coal-fired power plants. Each gas-guzzling SUV contributes infinitesimally to the problem, and

Conflict and Peacemaking Chapter 13 485

harm each does is diffused over many people. To model such social predicaments, researchers have developed laboratory dilemmas that involve multiple people.

A metaphor for the insidious nature of social dilemmas is what ecologist Garrett Hardin (1968) called the Tragedy of the Commons. He derived the name from the centrally located grassy pasture in old English towns.

In today’s world the “commons” can be air, water, fish, cookies, or any shared and limited resource. If all use the resource in moderation, it may replenish itself as rapidly as it’s harvested. The grass will grow, the fish will reproduce, and the cookie jar will be restocked. If not, there occurs a tragedy of the commons. Imagine 100 farmers surrounding a commons capable of sustaining 100 cows. When each grazes one cow, the common feeding ground is optimally used. But then a farmer reasons, “If I put a second cow in the pasture. I’ll double my output, minus the mere 1 percent overgrazing” and adds a second cow. So does each of the other farmers. The inevi­ table result? The Tragedy of the Commons—a mud field and famished cows.

Likewise, environmental pollution is the sum of many minor pollutions, each of which benefits the individual polluters much more than they could benefit them­ selves (and the environment) if they stopped polluting. We litter public places— dorm lounges, parks, zoos—while keeping our personal spaces clean. We deplete our natural resources because the immediate personal benefits of, for instance, taking a long, hot shower outweigh the seemingly inconsequential costs. Whalers knew others would exploit the whales if they didn’t, and that taking a few whales would hardly diminish the species. Therein lies the tragedy. Everybody’s business (conservation) becomes nobody’s business.

Is such individualism imiquely American? Kaori Sato (1987) gave students in a more collective culture, Japan, opportunities to harvest—for actual money trees from a simulated forest. The students shared equally the costs of planting the for­ est. The result was like those in Western cultures. More than half the trees were harvested before they had grown to the most profitable size.

Sato’s forest reminds me of our home’s cookie jar, which was restocked once a week. What we should have done was conserve cookies so that each day we could each enjoy two or three. But lacking regulation and fearing that other family mem­ bers would soon deplete the resource, what we actually did was maximize our individual cookie consumption by downing one after the other. The result; Within 24 hours the cookie glut would often end, the jar sitting empty for the rest of the week.

When resources are not partitioned, people often consume more than they real­ ize (Herlocker & others, 1997). As a bowl of mashed potatoes is passed around a table of 10, the first few diners are more likely to scoop out a disproportionate share than when a platter of 10 chicken drumsticks is passed.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Tragedy of the Commons games have several similar features.


First, both games tempt people to explain their ozon behavior situationally (“I had to protect myself against exploitation by my opponent”) and to explain their part­ ners’ behavior dispositionally (“she was greedy,” “he was untrustworthy ). Most never realize that their counterparts are viewing them with the same fundamental attribution error (Gifford & Hine, 1997; Hine & Gifford, 1996). People with self- inflating, self-focused narcissistic tendencies are especially unlikely to empathize with others’ perspectives (Campbell & others, 2005).


Second, motives often change. At first, people are eager to make some easy money, then to minimize their losses, and finally to save face and avoid defeat (Brockner & others, 1982; Teger, 1980). These shifting motives are strikingly similar to the shifting motives during the buildup of the 1960s Vietnam War. At first. President Johnson’s speeches expressed concern for democracy, freedom, and justice. As the conflict escalated, his

Tragedy of the Commons The “commons” is any shared resource, including air, water, energy sources, 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—the tragedy—of the commons.

486 Part Three Social Relations

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).










TUNA ROAM,” 2006

Small is cooperative. On the Isle of Muck, off Scotland’s west coast, Constable Lawrence MacEwan has had an easy time policing the island’s residents, recently numbering 33. Over his 40 years on the job, there was never a crime (5cotf/s/j Life, 2001). In 2010, a row between two friends who had been drinking at a wedding became the first recorded crime in 50 years, but the next morning, they shook hands and all was well (Cameron, 2010).

concern became protecHng America’s honor and avoiding the national humiliaH^^ of losmg a war. A similar shift occurred during the war in Iraq, which was initiall^ proposed as a response to Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction. ^


Third, most real-life conflicts, like the Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Tragedy of thp Commons, are non-zero-sum games. The two sides’ profits and losses need not add up to zero. Both can win; both can lose. Each game pits the immediate interests of indi ^duals agamst the well-being of the group. Each is a diaboUcal social trap that shows how, even when each individual behaves “rationally,” harm can result. No maUcious person planned for the earth’s atmosphere to be warmed by a carbon dioxide blanket

Not all self-serving behavior leads to collective doom. In a plentiful commons—as in the world of the eighteenth-century capitalist economist Adam Smith (1776, p 18)— mdividu^ who seek to maximize their own profit may also give the commuidty wl^t It needs: It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner,” he observed, “but from their regard to their own interest.”


Faced with social traps, how can we induce people to cooperate for their mutual betterment? Research with the laboratory dilemmas reveals several ways (Gifford & Hine, 1997). ^

REGULATION If taxes were entirely voluntary, how many would pay their full share? Modern societies do not depend on charity to pay for schools, parks, and social and military security. We also develop rules to safeguard our common good. Fishing and hunting have long been regulated by local seasons and limits; at the ^obal level, an International Whaling Commission sets an agreed-upon “harvest” that enables whales to regenerate. Likewise, where fishing industries, such as the Alaskan halibut fishery, have implemented “catch shares”—guaranteeing each fisher a percentage of each year’s allowable catch—competition and overfishing have been greatly reduced (Costello & others, 2008).

In everyday life, however, regulation has costs—costs of administering and enforcing the regulations, costs of diminished personal freedom. A volatile political question thus arises: At what point does a regulation’s cost exceed its benefits?

SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL There is another way to resolve social dilemmas; Make the group small. In a small commons, each person feels more responsible and effec­ tive (Kerr 1989). As a group grows larger, people become more likely to think, “I couldn t have made a difference anyway”—a common excuse for noncooperation (Kerr &Kaufman-Gilliland, 1997).

487Conflict and Peacemaking

In small groups, people also feel more identified with a group’s success. Resi­ dential stability also strengthens communal identity and procommunity behavior (Oishi & others, 2007).

In small groups—in contrast to large ones—individuals are less likely to take more than their equal share of available resources (Allison & others, 1992). On the Pacific Northwest island where I grew up, our small neighborhood shared a com­ munal water supply. On hot summer days when the reservoir ran low, a light came on, signaling our 15 families to conserve. Recognizing our responsibility to one another, and feeling that our conservation really mattered, each of us conserved. Never did the reservoir run dry.

In a much larger commons—say, a city—voluntary conservation is less success­ ful. Because the harm one does diffuses across many others, each individual can rationalize away personal accountability. Some political theorists and social psy­ chologists therefore argue that, where feasible, the commons should be divided into smaller territories (Edney, 1980). In his 1902 Mutual Aid, the Russian revolu­ tionary Pyotr Kropotkin set down a vision of small communities rather than central government making consensus decisions for the benefit of all (Gould, 1988).

Evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar (1992, 2010) notes that hunter-gatherer societies often travel together as groups of 30 to 35 people, that tribal villages and clans often have averaged about 150 people—enough to afford mutual support and protection but not more people than one can monitor. He suspects it’s not a coinci­ dence that the average number of Facebook friends—about 125—echoes the size of our ancestral tribal villages, which reflect the number of people with whom we can have meaningful, supportive relationships. This seemingly natural group size is also, he believes, the optimum size for business organizations, religious congrega­ tions, and military fighting units.

COMMUNICATION To resolve a social dilemma, people must communicate. In the laboratory as in real life, group communication sometimes degenerates into threats and name-calling (Deutsch & Krauss, 1960). More often, communication enables cooperation (Bornstein & others, 1988,1989). Discussing the dilemma forges a group identity, which enhances concern for everyone’s welfare. It devises group norms and expectations and pressures members to follow them. Especially when people are face-to-face, it enables them to commit themselves to cooperation (Bouas & Komorita, 1996; Drolet & Morris, 2000; Kerr & others, 1994,1997; Pruitt, 1998).

A clever experiment by Robyn Dawes (1980, 1994) illustrates the importance of communication. Imagine that an experimenter offered you and six strangers a choice: You can each have $6, or you can donate your $6 to the others. If you give away your money, the experimenter will double your gift. No one will be told whether you chose to give or keep your $6. Thus, if all seven give, everyone pockets $12. If you alone keep your $6 and all the others give theirs, you pocket $18. If you give and the others keep, you pocket nothing. In this experiment, cooperation is mutually advantageous, but it requires risk. Dawes found that, without discussion, about 30 percent of people gave. With discussion, in which they could establish trust and cooperation, about 80 percent gave.

Open, clear, forthright communication between two parties reduces mistrust. Without communication, those who expect others not to cooperate will usually refuse to cooperate themselves (Messe & Sivacek, 1979; Pruitt & Kimmel, 1977). One who mistrusts is almost sure to be uncooperative (to protect against exploita­ tion). Noncooperation, in turn, feeds further mistrust (“VS^at else could I do? It’s a dog-eat-dog world”). In experiments, communication reduces mistrust, enabling people to reach agreements that lead to their common betterment.

CHANGING THE PAYOFFS Laboratory cooperation rises when experimenters change the payoff matrix to reward cooperation and punish exploitation (Balliet & others, 2011). Changing payoffs also helps resolve actual dilemmas. In some cit­ ies, freeways clog and skies collect smog because people prefer the convenience

Chapter 13






















488 Part Three Social Relations

To change behavior, many cities have changed the payoff matrix. Fast carpool-only lanes increase the benefits of carpooling and the costs of driving alone.




AUGUST 20,1940

of driving themselves directly to work. Each knows that one more car does not add noticeably to the congestion and pollution. To alter the personal cost-benefit calculations many cities now give carpoolers incentives, such as desig­ nated freeway lanes or reduced tolls.

APPEALING TO ALTRUISTIC NORMS In Chapter 12 we saw how increasing bystanders’ feelings of responsibility for others boosts altruism. Will appeals to altruistic motives similarly prompt people to act for the common good?

The evidence is mixed. On the one hand, just knowing the dire consequences of noncooperation has little effect. In labo­ ratory games, people realize that their self-serving choices are mutually destructive, yet they continue to make them. Out­ side the laboratory, warnings of doom and appeals to con­ serve have brought little response. Shortly after taking office in 1976, President Carter declared that America’s response to the energy crisis should be “the moral equivalent of war” and urged conservation. The following summer, Americans consumed more gasoline than ever before. At the beginning of this new century, people knew that global warming was under way—and were buying gas-slurping SUVs in record numbers. As we have seen many times in this book, attitudes sometimes fail to influence behavior. Knowing what is good does not necessarily lead to doing what is good.

Still, most people do adhere to norms of social responsibil­ ity, reciprocity, equity, and keeping one’s commitments (Kerr, 1992). The problem is how to tap such feelings. One way is through the influence of a charismatic leader who inspires others to cooperate (De Cremer, 2002). Another way is by defining situations in ways that invoke cooperative norms. In one experiment, only a third of participants cooperated in a simulation labeled the “Wall Street Game.” Two-thirds did so when the same social dilemma was labeled the “Community Game” (Liberman & others, 2004).

Communication can also activate altruistic norms. When permitted to communi­ cate, participants in laboratory games frequently appeal to the social-responsibility norm: “If you defect on the rest of us, you’re going to have to live with it for the rest of your life” (Dawes & others, 1977). So researcher Robyn Dawes (1980) and his associates gave participants a short sermon about group benefits, exploitation, and ethics. Then the participants played a dilemma game. The sermon worked: People chose to forgo immediate personal gain for the common good. (Recall, too, from Chapter 12, the disproportionate volunteerism and charitable contributions by people who regularly hear religious sermons.)

Could such appeals work in large-scale dilemmas? In the 1960s struggle for civil rights, many marchers willingly agreed, for the sake of the larger group, to suffer harassment, beatings, and jail. In wartime, people make great personal sacrifices for the good of their group. As Winston Churchill said of the Battle of Britain, the actions of the Royal Air Force pilots were genuinely altruistic: A great many people owed a great deal to those who flew into battle knowing there was a high probability—70 per­ cent for those on a standard tour of duty—that they would not return (Levinson, 1950).

To summarize, we can minimize destructive entrapment in social dilemmas by establishing rules that regulate self-serving behavior, by keeping groups small by enabling people to communicate, by changing payoffs to make cooperation more rewarding, and by invoking compelling altruistic norms.

Competition Hostilities often arise when groups compete for scarce jobs, housing, or resources. When interests clash, conflict erupts—a phenomenon Chapter 9 identified as realistic group conflict. As one Algerian immigrant to France explained after Muslim youth rioted in

489Conflict and Peacemaking

f Prpnch cities in the autumn of 2005, “There is no exit, no factories, no jobs for ■dozens of French c (c^inVmo 2005) ”We are the 99 percent EconomiclU- ^ Tilted te chirpy wTll s“^t prlstors in 2011: expressing their fjustice is overdue declared the Wail b P ^pleasure With 1 percent of

invading his Turkish province in 1919.

: Theystartedkiliingpeoplerightand^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ and then I became mterested wLtevL science or specialization was

‘ After studying the social roots of savagery, Sherif introduced

camp m “Parate buse^ an p ^^,5 Oklahoma’s Robb« s Cav^ State Park^to^^^^ in various activities-preparing

ifying the good feeling, a ^ ^ the conflict. Near the first Grouo identity thus established, the stage u n m ” wVi#»n the

groups (baseball games, ° ^ ^ tMs was win-lose competition. Theforth), both groups responded enthusiastically. 1 Ills V* spoils (medals, knives) would all go to the , ,,ene from

boys marooned on an island. In Sh • • ^ it escalated to din-

Chapter 13

Little-known fact: How did Sherif unobtrusively observe the boys without inhibiting their behavior? He became the camp maintenance man (Williams, 2002).

Competition kindles conflict. Here, in Sherif’s Robber’s Cave experiment, one group of boys raids the bunkhouse of another.

490 Part Three



Social Relations

after hearing tolerance-advocating messages, ingroup discussion often exacerh i dislike of the conflicting group (Paluck, 2010). All of this occurred without anv ? tural, physical, or economic differences between the two groups, and withal,”*’ who were their communiHes’ “cream of the crop.” Sherif noted that, had we the camp at that point, we would have concluded these “were wicked dishirh a Md vicious bunches of youngsters” (1966, p. 85). Actually, their evil behavior ‘ tnggered by an evil situation.

Competition breeds such conflict, later research has shown, especially when i.i p^ple perceive that resources such as money, jobs, or power are limited and avaU- able on a zero-sum basis (others’ gain is one’s loss), and (b) a distinct outeroun stands out as a potential competitor (Esses & others, 2005). Thus, those who see immigrants as competing for their own jobs will tend to express negative attitudes toward immigrants and immigration. ^

Fortunately, as we will see, Sherif not only made strangers into enemies; he then also made the enemies into friends.

Perceived Injustice “That’s i^air!” “What a ripoff!” “We deserve better!” Such comments typify conflicts bred by perceived injustice. But what is “justice”? According to some social-psychological theorists, people perceive justice as equity—the distribution of rewards in proportion to individuals’ contributions (Walster & others, 1978). If you and I have a relationship (employer-employee, teacher-student, husband-wife colleague-colleague), it is equitable if

My outcomes _ Your outcomes My inputs Your inputs

If you contribute more and benefit less than I do, you will feel exploited and irri- tated; I may feel exploitative and guilty. Chances are, though, that you will be more sensitive to the inequity than I will be (Greenberg, 1986; Messick & Sentis, 1979).

We may agree with the equity principle’s definition of justice yet disagree on whetiier our relationship is equitable. If two people are colleagues, what will each consider a relevant input? The older person may favor basing pay on seniority, the other on current productivity. Given such a disagreement, whose definition is likely to prevail. Those with social power usually convince themselves and others that they deserve what they’re getting (Mikula, 1984). This has been called a “golden” rule: Whoever has the gold makes the rules.

Critics argue that equity is not the only conceivable definition of justice. (Pause a moment: Can you imagine any other?) Edward Sampson (1975) argued that equity Uieonsts wrongly assume that the economic principles that guide Western, capital­ ist nations are umversal. Some noncapitalist cultures define justice not as equity but as equality or even fulfillment of need: “From each according to his abilities, to each accordmg to his needs” (Karl Marx). Compared with individualistic Americans, people socialized under the influence of collectivist cultures, such as China and ^dia, defme justice more as equality or need fulfillment (Hui & others, 1991 • Leung & Bond, 1984; Murphy-Berman others, 1984).

On what basis should rewards be distributed? Merit? Equality? Need^ Some com­ bination of those? Political philosopher John Rawls (1971) invited us to consider a tuture m which our own place on the economic ladder is unknown. Which stan­ dard of justice would we prefer?

Misperception Recall that conflict is a perceived incompatibility of actions or goals. Many conflicts contain but a small core of truly incompatible goals; the bigger problem is the misper­ ceptions of the other’s motives and goals. Hie Eagles and the Rattlers did indeed

Conflict and Peacemaking Chapter 13 491

have some genuinely incompatible aims. But their perceptions subjectively magni­ fied their differences (Figure 13.3).

In earlier chapters we considered the seeds of such misperception:

T • The self-serving bias leads individu- S’ als and groups to accept credit for I ’ their good deeds and shirk respon-

sibility for bad deeds, r • A tendency to sc//-j«stf/y inclines 1^ people to deny the wrong of their I evil acts. (“You call that hitting? I

hardly touched him!”) [■ • Thanks to the fundamental attribution error, each side sees the other’s hostility j as reflecting an evil disposition. \. • One then filters the information and interprets it to fit one’s preconceptions. \ • Groups fr

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