Natural Conflict Resolution

By Filippo Aureli; Frans B. M. De Waal | Go to book overview
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Key Terms Used in the Volume

The list is based on definitions from Hinde (1974), Mason (1993), and Cords & Killen (1998) and was finalized with the help of the following colleagues from various disciplines: Marina Cords, Douglas Fry, Peter Verbeek, and Douglas Yarn. Aggression. Behavior directed at members of the same species in order to cause physical injury or to warn of impending actions of this nature by means of facial and vocal threat displays.

Appeasement. Actions directed at a potential aggressor serving to reduce the risk of being attacked; not necessarily a form of conflict resolution.

Conflict (i.e., interindividual conflict). Situation that arises when individuals act on incompatible goals, interests, or actions. Conflict need not be aggressive.

Conflict Management. Actions or adherence to conventions that settle conflict but do not necessarily end it. Conflict management serves to reduce the cost of conflict to one or both opponents. Some examples of conflict management that do not end conflict are the following. Ritualized dominance relationships, respect of possession, the development of social customs and routines, and forms of reassurance and appeasement before potential conflict are means to avoid the escalation of conflict to aggression and can be considered as peacekeeping mechanisms. Ritualized forms of aggression function in avoiding the escalation to physical aggression and potential injury. Redirection of aggression by the recipient to third parties and interference by powerful individuals often break up ongoing aggressive interactions. Third parties may console one or both opponents. Such consolations do not end the state of conflict but alleviate the distress associated with such a state. Forms of conflict management that end conflict are considered as conflict resolution.

Conflict Resolution. Actions that eliminate the incompatibility of attitudes and goals of the conflicting individuals. Resolution is obtained by direct communication between former opponents that restores interaction between them. Examples include compromise, sharing, and reconciliation or peacemaking. Opponents may also agree to disagree. In this case the differences at the basis of the conflict still persist, but the opponents have agreed on the significance of these differences. Agreeing to disagree is not the same as dropping the conflict. Only the former involves communication between the two parties.

Consolation. The calming of a distressed conflict participant by a third party through friendly interaction.

Post-Conflict Third-Party Affiliation. Friendly interaction between a bystander and an individual previously involved in a conflict. It may have various functions depending on the role of the individual in the conflict and the relationship between the bystander and either opponent. Potential functions are appeasement, consolation, reassurance, and recruitment of support.

Reassurance. Actions serving to reduce anxiety of (and restore confidence in) the recipient of the action; not necessarily a form of conflict resolution.

Reconciliation. Post-conflict friendly reunion of former opponents that restores their social relationship disturbed by the conflict. Reconciliation is one mechanism of conflict resolution. If this function is not implied or demonstrated, a more descriptive term (e.g., postconflict friendly reunion) is used.

Redirection. An aggressive action by the recipient of aggression against a third individual. It may function to divert the attention of the former aggressor (and other group members) from the original recipient of aggression.


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