Research Suggests that Thinking Longterm May Help Resolve Conflict More Cooperatively and Effectively | Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

April 28, 2021by Natalie Davis0
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Summary of:

Upadhyay, D. (2021). Consideration of future consequences and decision-making patterns as determinants of conflict management styles. IIMB Management Review, 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iimb.2021.03.006

Background & Theory

This article explores how the consideration of future consequences (CFC), decision making styles, and conflict management styles (cooperative vs. competitive) are all related. The author makes an argument that the way we handle conflict is greatly impacted by CFC, and that our decision making (vigilant or hyper-vigilant) mediates that relationship.

Research Questions

Upadhyay, in “Consideration of future consequences and decision-making patterns as determinants of conflict management styles” (2021), seeks to address the following questions:

    1. How does CFC influence our conflict management styles?
    2. What role do our decision making tendencies play in this relationship?

Methods

The author conducted two studies to address the questions above:

Study 1: Study 1 included 148 participants, all of whom were Indian and were recruited online. The average age was 28.71 years old and roughly ⅔ were male and ⅓ were female. The participants were provided a questionnaire where they provided demographic information and answered questions about conflict management styles and CFC. The data were then compiled and analyzed.

Study 2: Study 2 included 74 participants (though 13 would be excluded), all recruited online. The ethnicities for the participants varied, there were 38 males and 23 females, and average age was 31.69 years old. This study again included a questionnaire that asked questions regarding CFC and conflict management styles, and also included the Melbourne DMQ questionnaire and the Harman one-factor test was employed to prevent common method bias. The data was then compiled and analyzed.

Results

Study 1: Study 1 found that CFC does impact conflict management styles, indicating that if someone has a higher CFC, they are likely to prefer cooperative conflict management, and if they have a lower CFC, they are likely to prefer competitive conflict management.

Study 2: Study 2 found that vigilant decision making and hyper-vigilant decision making were correlated with CFC, vigilant being positively so and hyper-vigilant being negatively so. While it is not entirely exclusive and further research should be done, this study implies that decision making styles mediate the relationship between CFC and conflict management styles.

Overall, the research suggests that CFC can predict one’s conflict management preferences, and also that one’s decision making tendencies have a possible influence on this relationship.

What This Means

  • How we anticipate future consequences, tied into how we generally address decisions, plays a factor in how we also address conflict. The more likely we are to have greater consideration for future consequences, the more likely we are to lean toward cooperative conflict management styles, and likely already hold vigilant decision making preferences.
  • This tends to arise from our personality traits, but it can be suggested that trainings for both conflict resolution specialists and those in leadership roles can assist in encouraging people to think more about future consequences, which can lend hand to creating or encouraging more of a cooperative conflict management approach.
  • This cooperative approach may be helpful in preserving relationships and preventing future conflict from arising again.

Final Takeaway

For consultants: Consider ways you might encourage your clients (or yourself) to think further about future consequences when resolving conflict and how to further approach the conflict with a cooperative mindset.

For everyone: It can sometimes feel easier to handle conflict immediately, even if it means straining future relationships. However, it will likely benefit all involved to think more about the future impacts of current decisions and how to best resolve things in a way that will prevent further conflict.

Natalie Davis

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