Escalation of Images in International Conflicts

  • Guy Olivier Faure


A negotiation process is a process of construction: a modification of representations that goes far beyond what can be drawn from rational actor models. If reality is considered unattainable, perceptions are the data with which negotiators have to work. Perceptions and their associated evaluations relate to values and judgments that influence behavior, and also strategic choices. As indicated in Confucius’ Analects, without common principles, there is no point in negotiating. Even when parties only agree to disagree, their disagreement concerns issues, offers, suggestions, problem framing, and methods that go through their own perceptions. Representations may take a dramatic turn, for example in the case of the escalation of negative images of the counterpart – leading, for instance, to demonization. Negotiators act not on the basis of facts, but on the basis of their perception of facts. Thus, subjectivity plays an essential role – and rather than being static, that role can evolve during the negotiation process. This can be a key element in the evolution of the problem’s perception, its framing, and possibly its transformation. Changes in the perception of the other party, in the perception of one’s own subjective utility function or that of the other party, or in the perception of the context, may greatly facilitate the reaching of a common solution. However, the same phenomenon may also work the other way round. Those changes may contribute to an increase in the level of conflict and the perceived incompatibility of goals. In that case, they become highly counterproductive (Faure 2009).


Negotiation Process Cognitive Dissonance Western Medium Conspiracy Theory Dramatic Event 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université la Sorbonne de ParisParisFrance

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