Third Party Consultation as a Method of Intergroup and International Conflict Resolution

  • Ronald J. Fisher
  • Loraleigli Keashly
Part of the Springer Series in Social Psychology book series (SSSOC)


The ubiquitous phenomenon of intergroup conflict has a built-in tendency to escalate, as indicated in the eclectic model and as substantiated by a host of research results documented in the preceding chapters. Human limitations and fallibilities in perception and cognition lend themselves to misperceptions, cognitive errors, and self-fulfilling expectations that feed the conflict spiral of mistrust, threat, and counterthreat. The competitive and ethnocentric tendencies of cohesive and threatened groups feed decision making and constituent pressure that support contentious and escalatory tactics. For purposes of either defense or aggression, win-lose approaches to handling conflict are often reciprocated as conflicts move to new and ever more destructive levels of intensity. As indicated in the high intensity system state of the eclectic model, the parties become locked into inadequate communication and interaction, and counterproductive dispute resolution. At this point, parties are usually unable and unwilling to search seriously and effectively for alternative means to de-escalate and resolve their conflict. Even if one party does consider a unilateral move toward cooperation, it is immediately constrained by fear of exploitation, which, given the situation, is not unrealistic. If both parties attempt cooperative moves, existing perceptions and entrenched styles of interaction fueled by suspicion and hostility make it difficult if not impossible to maintain deescalation. It is for these reasons that the intervention of a third party is often necessary to initiate de-escalation and mutual interaction toward resolution in situations of intense intergroup and international conflict.


Conflict Resolution Contingency Approach Intergroup Contact Conflict Analysis Intergroup Relationship 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald J. Fisher
  • Loraleigli Keashly

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