chapter  9
32 Pages

Description, Explanation, and Prescription of Intragroup Conflict Behaviors

WithEvert Van de Vliert and Onne Janssen

Conflict-free groups do not exist. We especially detect conflict in the group members’ actions: They avoid a reproach, accommodate a poor plan, negotiate on a price or a problem, fight an opponent on principle, and the like. Psychologists describe all such behaviors, try to explain them, and study the outcomes to recommend effective methods of conflict management. Consequently, there are descriptive, explanatory, and prescriptive theories of conflict behavior, as well as an assortment of combinations of these three types of scientific efforts. Note that this trichotomization of theories constitutes a very useful organizing principle for a broad-ranging literature. Indeed, the unique features of our viewpoint could serve as a model for reviewing many scholarly fields in terms of description, explanation, and prescription.