NATURAL COGNITIVE SORTING: THE SELF VS THE OTHER The natural cognitive sorting mechanism of dividing people into ‘us’ and ‘them’ engenders prejudice and in the long run, political violence. This perspective is typical to The Self and The Other concept in which people and groups are constructed to exclude the other or any entity that is perceived as foreign, and to include the self or other entities affiliated to the self. “Protracted social conflicts typically involve an enduring set of antagonistic perceptions and interactions between communal groups…negative attributions of motivations and reciprocal negative images perpetuate the antagonisms and solidify the conflict” (Fisher 1997). This concept breeds the antagonization of groups which turns one group against the other, deepening rifts and sharpening rivalry. Since this type of social cognitive process emphasizes differences between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ an elitism can arise which advantages one group over the other and fosters an unhealthy intergroup competition and mutual exclusion. With mutual degradation and demonized motives, each group continues to not only drift apart, but rub against each other in a frictional relationship to produce an aggression fire. At the national level, the us and them dichotomy leads to jingoism which is a chauvinistic form of nationalism. This ideology promotes the suppression of one and the superiority of a people. Fanatical patriotism and the prejudiced belief propose that another party must suffer in the power imbalance. (Paris 2004) agrees that “exclusionary forms of nationalism also make enemies of excluded groups.” In other words, one nation categorizes, segregates and disadvantages another. As a consequence, the excluded party harbors resentment toward the opposing group. Resentment begets tension-filled relations, which beget mistrust. The polarizing effect of the ‘us’ and ‘them’ construct leads inevitably to suspicion and in a competitive environment, to perceived inequalities. Inequalities result in categorization of an oppressed and an oppressor, the victimized and the victimizer. At a particular point, one group arrives at a breaking point, demanding the redress of wrongs whether real or perceived and an equalizing of the playing field. (Fisher 1997) also recognizes that some “conflicts arise when identity groups perceive that they are oppressed and victimized through a denial of recognition, security, equity and political participation.” Imbalances of power stimulate one group to react or even retaliate – hence hostilities erupt. It was a wave of nationalism which provokes WWII in which the Aryan Germans attempt to purge Germany of ‘unwanted elements’ for the sake of the country. Similarly in the case of Rwanda and other countries, ethnic cleansing or genocide take place because of inequality and a false sense of nationalism. SORTING OUT THE NATURAL COGNITIVE SORTING PROCESS To arrive to conflict resolution, one must broach the theme of altering intergroup perceptions. This method is an individual-to-social strategy in which with a third party intervention, both groups can mutually exchange opinions and feelings. John Burton pioneers and implements a
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Conflict Resolution Theory Abstract In conflict resolution, preconceived notions, also called the natural cognitive sorting processes, are the stimuli that unwittingly foment war. By taking a look at individual and intergroup relations, one can better grasp conflict resolution as a way of mediation which may lessen the probabilities of the outbreak of political violence…
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