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

Differences in Values

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Since effective persuasive arguments are usually based on common values, profound differences in values between conflicting parties can make effective persuasion difficult. If a conflict is primarily value based--that is, if it revolves around differing concepts of good and bad, right and wrong--it can be very difficult to craft an effective persuasive argument. That is because values usually cannot be changed simply by reason.

Values are deeply held beliefs-usually based on cultural traditions, long-held family and religious teachings and long-lasting memories of personal experiences. Given their sources, people's values seldom change, even when their more superficial desires (for instance, their interests) are modified. "Asking someone to adjust his values is like asking him to alter his sense of reality," explain mediators Susan Carpenter and W.J.D. Kennedy. While this can happen, it doesn't happen often or easily. For this reason, values usually cannot be negotiated, nor can they be changed through persuasive arguments.

Value conflicts are even more difficult to deal with because the people in conflict may not only disagree about the substance of a dispute, but they will often disagree about the appropriate method of dispute resolution or dispute management as well. Given the lack of agreement on both process and substance, parties involved in value conflicts tend to turn to force-based conflict options more often than negotiation or persuasive approaches, because force seems to be the only common language that both sides understand and honor.


Links to Examples of Value-Based Conflicts:

Andrea Williams -- Resolving Conflict in a Multicultural Environment
One common source of profound value differences are cultural differences between disputants. While conflicts between members of different cultures can be resolved, cultural differences must be treated differently than simple differences in interests.
W. Barnett Pearce and Stephen Littlejohn -- Moral Conflict
This is a summary of Pearce and Littlejohn's book Moral Conflict. The book details the special problems created by value or moral conflicts and suggests new, more productive ways of expressing those conflicts and managing moral differences.

Links to Treatments of Value-Based Conflicts:


Focusing on Shared Values/Commonality


Links to Related Problems:

Lack of Legitimacy


Prejudice and Discrimination

Ineffective Persuasion

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