- The structure and management of conflict: Fighting or defending the status quo
- Group Processes & Intergroup Relations
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- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Although conflict and negotiation studies have examined symmetrical structures in which
both parties want change, or asymmetrical structures in which one party wants change and the other to maintain the status quo, no research provided a direct comparison of both structures. Two experiments were conducted to fill this void. Results show that in asymmetrical structures challengers engage in more problem solving and more contending, have less of a loss frame and perceive less control than defendants, and are perceived be less successful. In symmetrical structures, behavior and attitudes of parties are more alike and there is more reciprocation of problem solving and yielding. Furthermore, findings reveal that challengers see their defendant as less friendly and more dominant than defendants see their challengers. Finally, no evidence was obtained that social value orientation moderates these effects. Implications for conflict theory and research, and for third party interventions in symmetrical versus asymmetrical conflicts, are discussed.
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