Edited by Mara Olekalns and Wendi L. Adair
As people live side by side in ever-growing societies, conflicts of interests seem almost inevitable. Conflicts may appear at a large scale involving many people (for example, a conflict between nations) or at a small scale involving just two people (for example, two partners bickering over the daily chores). Inherent to all conflicts is their potential to escalate. Conflicts between nations can escalate into wars and conflicts between partners can turn into fights. Such escalations are often costly to all parties involved. A war, for example, may result in a large loss of lives. It is clear that escalation of a conflict is something one wants to avoid. Negotiations offer a more constructive way to solve conflicts. Given the potential benefits, it should be no surprise that negotiations have been a focal topic in economic and psychological research. Negotiating can be described as a social interaction in which two or more parties in conflict seek a better outcome through joint action than they could realize independently (Lax and Sebenius, 1986). It is important to note that this definition stresses both a conflict of interests and interdependency.
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