D9: Examples of the Backlash Effect -- and Ways to Avoid It.

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D9: Examples of the Backlash Effect -- and Ways to Avoid It.

As explained in the video, the backlash effect is the tendency for people to seek revenge for wrongs done to them or perceived to be done to them.  It is measured by what we call the "backlash coefficient," which is simply the number of enemies (or alternatively, problems) you make in the process of eliminating one existing enemy (or problem).  The video used the example of Iraq and Afghanistan, but there are many more examples, even at the interpersonal level.  A parent can harshly punish a child, but the result of that punishment might not be better behavior, but actually worse behavior as the child seeks revenge for what is seen to be an injustice.  In the business environment, a ruling that was intended to streamline the workflow  can actually hamper it as employees try to undercut the change that they view as unfair, unworkable, or otherwise onerous. At the political level in the United States, we saw the backlash very starkly in the election of Donald Trump.  Although there have been hundreds--maybe thousands--of analyses of what happened to bring that surprising outcome about, certainly one key factor was white middle- and lower-class men (and indeed, many women), seeking revenge against either "liberals" or "the establishment" which they saw as having wronged them (or at least ignored their interests) for many years.

So our questions:

  • Are you aware of other good, well documented, examples of conflicts that were intensified and made more destructive by the backlash effect?
  • More importantly, are you aware of successful (and hopefully well documented) efforts to deal with committed adversaries in ways that do not generate backlash?

Please add your ideas here!


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