Lesson 03: Psychological Theories of Conflict
This lesson explores how people's thoughts and emotions influence their communication during conflict interactions. Reading Assignment
Joseph P. Folger, Marshall Scott Poole, and Randall K. Stutman, Working Through Conflict: Strategies for Relationships, Groups, and Organizations (Chapter 2, “The Inner Experience of Conflict,” pp. 40-73). Key Ideas from the Reading
The theories and perspectives covered in Chapter 2 (“The Inner Experience of Conflict”) focus on what occurs at a psychological level in conflict situations. Responses by interdependent individuals to perceived incompatibilities in goals, as well as responses in how to achieve these goals (also when relevant, attitudes, values, beliefs, and modes of behavior), influence their communicative behavior. To a lesser degree, the converse is also true.
The psychodynamic perspective (pp. 41-46) suggests that overt communicative behavior is a response to internal psychological experiences one is having as a result of anxieties and related aggressive impulses that may be activated by perceived incompatibilities, both of which can lead to counterproductive or even destructive responses to conflict.
Verbal aggressiveness theory, which reflects the emotion-based perspective, focuses on two frequently confused but conceptually distinct personality traits (verbal aggressiveness vs. argumentativeness) that influence how the parties to a conflict are apt to interact. Verbally aggressive individuals are likely to escalate conflicts, whereas those who are argumentative are more likely to move successfully from differentiation to integration and to maintain harmonious relationships. (See pp. 46-53.)
Attribution theory, an example of the social cognition perspective, advances the view that how one is likely to interact with others in situations involving conflicts is a function of what the person perceives to be the cause of others' behavior (pp....
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