Conflict Psychology

Morton Deutsch

E.L. Thorndike Professor and Director Emeritus of the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Teachers College, Columbia University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

I think psychologists emphasize what is an important emphasis; you have to understand that people have feelings, emotions, beliefs, prejudices and misconceptions. You have to understand what is involved psychologically for the person. People sometimes enter into a conflict with a lot of baggage from their personal history and that also has to be understood. Some people will have hang ups in relations with authority, going back to their relationship with their father, or mother.

Or they'll have hang ups in relations with their peers because of how they were treated by their schoolmates, and so on. And that's part of understanding some of the background echoes that go on in conflict. That's not only true, I think, at the personal level.People come into say, ethnic conflicts have identities also, and historical memories, and images of what a good future would be like. And that's brought into the conflict, which may be specific and narrow, but is surrounded by these other issues. You have to listen to those other issues, and help the parties deal with the specific issues, if they can deal with the specific issues without getting into the larger issues.