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

Personal Attacks

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Inflammatory statements and personal attacks are two of the most common causes of conflict escalation. When people attack other people verbally, those attacked are likely to get especially defensive or angry--much more than they would have had their opponent(s) kept their statements impersonal and focused on the problem. For example, when people are told they, personally, are at fault for a particular situation, or that they are evil or stupid for believing something or advocating a particular action, the person attacked is likely to respond in a very negative way. They are much more likely to dig in their heels and stand firm, refusing to listen to the other side's arguments or consider making compromises or concessions. They will just reject the other side as unreasonable, and ignore anything they have to say.

When situations are exaggerated or emotional, negative statements are made about the opponent for the purpose of arousing support for one's own cause, the result is likely to increase support for both sides. Those making the inflammatory statements will not only increase support for their own side; they are also likely to increase their opponent's support as well, as people who realize that the statements are an unfair exaggeration will side with the party being accused, rather than the accuser. The result will not be a change in the relative support of one's own group (or in one's power relative to the other side), but rather an overall escalation of the conflict, which will make it more difficult for both sides to get what they need.


Links to Examples of This Problem:

Dean Peachy -- Thoughts on the Failure of Negotiations in the Gulf
In this essay, Dean Peachy asserts that the personalization of the problem on both sides made negotiations impossible and left force as the only option available.


Links to Possible Treatments of this Problem:

Principled Negotiation

Stereotype-breaking actions

Ground Rules

Respectful Communication

Shuttle Diplomacy/Mediated Communication


Links to Related Problems:

Inaccurate and Overly Hostile Stereotypes


Outgroup/Enemy Image


Inflammatory Media

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