The Atlantic

What Studying Conflict Resolution Teaches About Personal Relationships

Donna Hicks, a scholar at Harvard, says the lessons from her research on violence apply to interactions with family, friends, and mentees.
Source: Jaime Saldarriaga / Reuters

When people are threatened, evolutionary biology dictates extreme reactions: flee or fight? Donna Hicks, who studies conflict resolution at Harvard, says that this dynamic is at the core of much global tension—it’s just scaled up to the level of cities or countries.

So she starts small, focusing on individual interactions. She puts an emphasis on dignity—the inherent value of a life—and says that focusing on that value can prevent or dissolve tensions. Using this approach, she once led a face-to-face reconciliation in Northern Ireland, between an Irish Republican Army fighter and the British police

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