Linguistic Signs of Destructive and Constructive Processes in Conflict
8 Pages Posted: 25 May 2010
In this paper we address the destructiveness and constructiveness of conflict in a Dynamical Systems Theory framework. We propose that destructive and constructive conflict processes constitute two relatively orthogonal dimensions, of which each is associated with specific variables and components, and has its own distinct dynamics.Destructive processes form a coherent system aimed at inflicting psychological, material or physical damage on the opponent, while constructive processes form a coherent system aimed at achieving one’s goals while maintaining or enhancing relations with the opponent. We have constructed Destructive and Constructive Conflict Intensity Scales to assess the intensity of conflict processes in 10 conflicts on internet discussions forums and analyzed these discussions using language analysis software (LIWC). Linguistic analyses were also conducted on 5 military versus 5 human rights blogs. Results of the two studies confirm that constructive and destructive conflict processes are indeed two distinct, relatively independent dimensions, with different dynamics and different correlates. Theoretical and practical implications of this model are discussed.
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