Affective Inuences on the Perception, Management, and Resolution of Social Conicts
I magine that you are hearing a marching band performing a cheerful, upbeat tune while you are thinking about a serious conict you need to resolve with your partner. Would the mood induced by the music inuence your thoughts, plans, and eventual conict management strategies? This chapter will explore the psychological mechanisms responsible for such effects, describing a series of experiments demonstrating the inuence of mood on various conict behaviors. It is well known that affect is an integral component of most social conicts and also plays a crucial role in many aggressive encounters (Forgas, 2002, 2007; Zajonc, 2000; see also Chapter 9 in this volume). Affective states are likely to inuence a variety of strategic conict-related behaviors, such as assertiveness (see Chapter 5 in this volume), forgiveness (see Chapter 14 in this volume), goal setting (Chapters 6 and 12 in this volume), perspective taking (Chapter 7 in this volume), and reactions to ostracism (Chapters 3 and 13 in this volume). Returning to our introductory example, military music has been used ever since antiquity to inuence soldiers’ mood states, in the hope that upbeat, energetic music creates a more assertive and con–dent mindset that can inuence behavior in conict situations. In another
literary example, Thomas Mann in a short story describes how chess players’ decisions whether to use adefensive or aggressive strategy is markedly inuenced by the upbeat or downbeat mood of the background music played by an orchestra in the background.