Theories and models

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Theories and models

Dual concern model of conflict resolution

The dual concern model of conflict resolution is a conceptual perspective that assumes individuals’ preferred method of dealing with conflict is based on two underlying themes or dimensions:
1. A concern for self (i.e. assertiveness), and
2. A concern for others (i.e. empathy).
According to the model, group members balance their concern for satisfying personal needs and interests with their concern for satisfying the needs and interests of others in different ways. The intersection point between these two dimensions ultimately lead individuals towards exhibiting different styles of conflict resolution (Goldfien & Robbennolt, 2007). The dual model identifies five conflict resolution styles/strategies that individuals may use depending on their dispositions toward pro-self or pro-social goals.

Avoidance conflict style

Characterized by inaction and passivity, avoidance conflict style is typically used when an individual has reduced concern for their own outcomes as well as the outcomes of others. During conflict, these avoiders adopt a ―wait and see‖ attitude, often allowing conflict to phase out on its own without any personal involvement (Bayazit & Mannix, 2003). Unfortunately, by neglecting to address high-conflict situations, avoiders risk allowing problems to fester out of control.

Yielding conflict style

In contrast, yielding or ―accommodating‖ conflict styles are characterized by a high concern for others while having a low concern for one’s own self. This passive pro-social approach emerges when individuals derive personal satisfaction from meeting the needs of others and have a general concern for maintaining stable, positive social relationships. When faced with conflict, individuals with a yielding conflict style tend to give into others’ demands out of respect for the social relationship

Competitive conflict style

Competitive or ―fighting‖ conflict style maximizes individual assertiveness (i.e., concern for self) and minimizes empathy (i.e., concern for others). Groups consisting of competitive members generally enjoy seeking domination over others, and typically see conflict as a ―win or lose‖ predicament. Fighters tend to force others to accept their personal views by employing competitive, power tactics (e.g., argue; insult; accuse; violence) that foster feelings of intimidation (Morrill, 1995).

Cooperation conflict style

Characterized by an active concern for both pro-social and pro-self behavior, cooperation conflict style is typically used when an individual has elevated interests in their own outcomes as well as in the outcomes of others. During conflict, cooperators collaborate with others in an effort to find an amicable solution that satisfies all parties involved in the conflict. Individuals with this type of conflict style tend to be highly assertive and highly empathetic at the same time. By seeing conflict as a creative opportunity, collaborators willingly invest time and resources into finding a ―win-win‖ solution. According to the literature on conflict resolution, a cooperative conflict resolution style is recommended above all others (Sternberg & Dobson, 1987; Jarboe & Witteman, 1996).

Conciliation conflict style

Conciliation or ―compromising‖ conflict style is typical of individuals who possess an intermediate-level of concern for both personal and others’ outcomes. Compromisers value fairness and, in doing so, anticipate mutual give-and-take interactions. By accepting some demands put forth by others, compromisers believe this agreeableness will encourage others to meet half-way, thus promoting conflict resolution (van de Vliert & Euwema, 1994). This conflict style can be considered an extension of both ―yielding‖ and ―cooperative‖ strategies.