OTPIC Officially Retired

As of December 2, 2005, the Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict (OTPIC) has been officially retired, and is no longer open to new registrations.

The successor to OTPIC is a course called Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts (DCIC). The new curriculum is built around one of our major projects, Beyond Intractability, and offers a much more extensive and informative set of learning materials than that available through OTPIC.

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International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA

Out-Group/Enemy Image

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The term "out-group" refers to anyone who is not in your own group. In conflicts between groups of people, disputants usually view people outside their own group as less good, or in the case of the opposing group, really bad. The term "enemy image" refers to the same thing.  The opposing groups is seen as "the enemy," who is inferior to one's own group in many ways. For example, the enemy may be seen as stupid, selfish, deceitful, aggressive, hostile, even evil in character. This is true, even if members of the out-group do nothing more selfish, deceitful, aggressive, or evil than one's own group does. However, when they are engaged in a conflict, people will normally "project" their own negative traits on the other side, ignoring their own shortcomings or misdeeds, while emphasizing the same in the other. The extreme form of this tendency is de-humanization, in which members of the opposing group are really considered to be less than human. While such a view is unthinkable when people are not involved in a serious conflict, it is absolutely necessary to dehumanize an opponent if one needs to go to war against them. Otherwise, it becomes psychologically very difficult to kill people on the other side. If one is convinced, however, that the other side is bent on one's own destruction, and is somehow less human than one's own group is, it is much easier to engage in war or human rights violations against the opponent.


Links to Examples of this Problem:

Paul Wehr--Misperception
In this short essay, Paul Wehr explains how misperceptions reinforce enemy images.
Ruth Heimburg -- Extremists versus Police -- A Tragedy for All
This tragedy was caused, in part, by the extreme enemy image that each side had of the other, which prevented any consideration of a negotiated solution.
Jay Rothman - Conflict Management Policy Analysis
In this essay, Rothman analyzes a border dispute between Egypt and Israel. Much of the problem, he argues, was caused by distrust between the parties, caused by the enemy images they had of each other and hence of each other's motivations.
Paul Wahrhaftig- The Myth of a "Just War"
This short essay shows how enemy images escalated the situation in the Persian Gulf in 1991.
Religion and Reconciliation in Bosnia
In this sort essay, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Sarajevo observed how enemy images perpetuate the conflict in Bosnia, even after the settlement agreement was signed.
Louis Kriesberg -- The Consequences of Agreement
This article discusses changes in enemy images after de-escalation agreements.

Links to Outside Examples and Further Information:

Belief Ethnicity and Nationalism - United States Institute of Peace
This paper discusses the sources of intolerance.
Rwanda: Accountability for War Crimes and Genocide--United States Institute of Peace - Special Report
This report clearly illustrates the dangers of enemy images.


Links to Treatments for this Problem:

All Integrative Options

Mirror Imaging

Question Stereotypes

Stereotype-Breaking Actions


Links to Related Problems:

Inaccurate and Overly Hostile Stereotypes


Copyright 1998 Conflict Research Consortium  -- Contact: crc@colorado.edu