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

Confronting Hypocrisy or "Hypocrisy Mobilization"

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In many cases the parties to intractable conflict are committed to and honestly believe that they are living in ways which are consistent with their moral beliefs. Still, it is common for individuals to act in ways which do, by any reasonable standard, violate their moral principles. In some cases they do so unconsciously by simply failing to think through the moral implications of their actions. (It is easy to do things which clearly advance one's interest's without bothering to think about whether or not they are fair or consistent with one's fundamental values.) There are, unfortunately, also cases, where greedy people are completely unconcerned about issues of fairness.   These individuals may use false and misleading moral arguments to justify their purely selfish actions. The strategy which we call "hypocrisy mobilization" works in the first case, but not in the second.

Hypocrisy is the practice of behaving in ways which clearly violate an individual's publicly stated moral beliefs.  For example, if a person believes that all people are equal in the eyes of God, then it is hypocritical to treat some people better than others.  Many people find it extremely embarrassing and painful to publicly acknowledge their own hypocrisy. It undermines their sense of self-worth and the esteem with which they are held by others. In many cases people change their behavior, rather than then act in ways which can clearly and publicly be shown to be hypocritical.

The key to successful hypocrisy mobilization is, therefore, to create a situation in which an individual or group is confronted with the hypocrisy of their actions and is given a public choice to make about the future behavior. When successful, this strategy will mobilize the integrative system and use it to change behavior. Unlike force, which usually produces unstable change, the change brought about through the moral argument of hypocrisy mobilization is usually relatively stable.

One classic example of this strategy is Martin Luther King's campaign to end segregation in the United States in the 1950s. With public demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience, he drew attention to the fact that segregation was incompatible with the United States' claim that it was a nation in which all men (and women) were created equal.

Links to Examples

Ruth Heimburg -- Pandemonium in Waco: All the King's Horses and All the King's Men
Both sides saw the other as being hypocritical in this case.  A mediator might have been able to point this out, and use these perceptions to change behavior on both sides towards a more conciliatory approach.
Craig Kauffman -- Reflecting on Nicaragua
One of the topics described here is the Nueva Guinea Peace Commission use of   hypocrisy mobilization (though they don't use that term) to limit human rights violations.

Links to Related Approaches

Crafting Persuasive Arguments

Moral High Ground

Links to Related Problems

Lack of Legitimacy

Prejudice / Discrimination



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