Understanding High-Stakes Conflicts

In this chapter we argue that an important dimension for understanding how conflict evolves is whether it concerns low- or high-stakes conflicts. As a point of departure, we introduce three recent research projects on high-stakes conflicts, subsequently focusing on (1) conflicts in close relationships following an expatriation assignment for one of the partners, (2) third-party intervention in neighborhood conflicts by community mediators, and (3) crisis negotiations between the police and hostage takers. Our discussion highlights four key areas of attention: the importance of including notions of conflict asymmetry, incorporating a time horizon, alternative conflict management frameworks, and the connection with technological developments.

Citation
Giebels, E., Ufkes, E. G., & van Erp, K. J. (2014). Understanding high-stakes conflicts. In N. Ashkanasy, O. B. Ayoko, & K. A. Jehn (Eds.), The Handbook of Research in Conflict Management (pp. 66 – 78). Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.

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Urban District Identity as a Common Ingroup Identity: The Different Role of Ingroup Prototypicality for Minority and Majority Groups

In this paper we examined how identification with urban districts as an overarching identity (Gaertner & Dovido, 2000) and perceived ingroup prototypicality (Mummendey & Wenzel, 1999) influence the attitudes of residents toward other ethnic groups in their neighborhood. The overall conclusion of two field studies (N = 214 and N = 98) is that for majority-group members there may be a positive relation between identification with an overarching identity and outgroup attitudes, but only when they perceive their ingroup as low in prototypicality for the overarching group (Study 1 and 2). Conversely, for minority-group members there may be a positive relation between identification and outgroup attitudes, but only when they perceive their ingroup as high in prototypicality for the overarching group (Study 2). Outgroup prototypicality did not moderate the relation between identification and outgroup attitudes.

Citation
Ufkes, E. G., Otten, S., Van der Zee, K. I., Giebels, E., & Dovidio, J. F. (2012). Urban district identity as a common ingroup identity: The different role of ingroup prototypicality for minority and majority groups. European Journal of Social Psychology, 42 , 706-716. doi:10.1002/ejsp.1888.

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The Effectiveness of a Mediation Program in Symmetrical versus Asymmetrical Neighbor-to-Neighbor Conflicts

The last decades, neighborhood mediation programs have become an increasingly popular method to deal with conflicts between neighbors. Past research on the effectiveness of neighborhood mediation programs mainly focused on cases in which a mediation session effectively took place. However, persuading parties to participate in a mediation session forms a major challenge for mediators. In fact, many cases that are signed-up for mediation programs do not result in an actual mediation.

In the current paper we propose and show that conflict asymmetry, the degree to which parties differ in perceptions of the level of conflict, may be important for the course and outcomes of neighborhood mediation. We examined the entire process concerning 261 cases of neighbor conflicts reported to a Dutch neighborhood mediation program in the period from 2006 through 2008. As expected, cases were more often about asymmetrical than symmetrical conflicts. Moreover, compared to symmetrical conflicts, asymmetrical conflicts less often led to a mediation session; the degree of escalation was lower; and, particularly in asymmetrical conflicts, a mere intake session already contributed to positive conflict outcomes.

The results of this study suggest that mediators should be aware of the divergence of conflict perceptions between conflict parties because it may affect the course and outcomes of a case. Moreover, both mediators and policy makers should realize that a mere intake session already can be beneficial for the outcomes of the intervention.

Citation
Ufkes E. G., Giebels, E., Otten, S., & Van der Zee, K. I. (2012). The effect of stereotype content on anger versus contempt in “day-to-day” conflicts.  International Journal of Conflict Management, 23, 290-306. doi:10.1108/10444061211248985

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The Effect of Stereotype Content on Anger versus Contempt in “Day-to-Day” Conflicts

Depending on how involved parties appraise day-to-day conflicts, they either may feel angry or contemptuous toward the other party, which, in turn, may result in stronger confronting or avoiding intentions. In this paper we investigated how the content of stereotypes associated with the group to which an outgroup perpetrator belongs affects appraisals, emotions, and behavior. In two experiments, we demonstrated that stereotyping an outgroup as less warm resulted in increased feelings of anger, and tendencies to react forcefully toward an outgroup party in a conflict. Specifically, this effect of low stereotype warmth was explained by increased appraisals of negative intentions. Stereotyping an outgroup as less competent in the same situation elicited increased feelings of contempt, and tendencies to avoid an outgroup party in a conflict. This effect of stereotype incompetence was due to decreased appraisals of control over the other party.

Citation
Ufkes E. G., Otten, S., Van der Zee, K. I., Giebels, E., & Dovidio, J. F.  (2011). The effect of stereotype content on anger versus contempt in “day-to-day” conflicts. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 15, 55 – 72. doi:10.1177/1368430211417832.

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Neighborhood Conflicts: the Role of Social Categorization

A major problem in many deteriorated neighborhoods is the high level of social conflict. In a field study, we investigated the effect of social categorization upon negative emotions and behavioral intentions of residents in conflict situations. First, we assessed whether the black sheep effect would apply to neighborhood conflicts. We found that, both native-Dutch and Turkish residents (N = 529) reported more negative emotions towards an ingroup rather than an outgroup antagonist in a conflict situation. In addition we found that, when confronted with an outgroup antagonist, stereotype negativity related to more negative emotions and behavioral intentions. We conclude that, being in conflict with a member of another group does not necessarily enhance changes for escalation—negative stereotypes, however, do.

Citation
Ufkes E. G., Otten, S., Van der Zee, K. I., & Giebels, E. (2012). Neighborhood conflicts: The role of social categorization. International Journal of Conflict Management, 3, 290-306. doi:10.1108/10444061211248985

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