Table of Contents

  1. Letter from NCMR Editor-in-Chief: Special Issues on Difficult Conversations at NCMR 13(3) and NCMR Transition from Wiley to Janeway
  2. August Issue: Special Issue 13(3) Articles
  3. Featured Special Issue 13(3) Article and Authors
  4. November Issue: 13(4) Articles
  5. Featured 13(4) Article and Authors


Letter from the Editor-in-Chief


Dear IACM members,


I hope you and your families are safe and healthy. The events of 2020 have restructured our routines, reshaped our relationships, and in some cases, exacerbated tensions between cultural groups and nations. At the same time, these conflicts (e.g., among political parties, people holding different views on the pandemic, international conflict, etc.), offer us an opportunity to explore prioritized values and commonly held humanity. At the end of the day, we all care about life, peace, and coexistence.

With the goal of addressing difficult conversations, this special issue of NCMR, 13(3), includes six excellent articles. Below is a one-sentence summary of each article:

(1) Don Ellis discussed the fundamental causes behind intractable conflicts such as those between Israelis and Palestinians and offered guidelines for intergroup communication.

(2) Ifat Maoz and Paul Frosh discussed how individual storytelling (esp. on suffering) would shape intergroup relations and how the presentation of media could affect this approach.

(3) Katharine Kugler and Peter Coleman used experimental research to demonstrate how the over-simplified depiction of controversial issues could lead to more division, yet the understanding and acknowledgement of the complexity could lead to more tractable conversations.

(4) Deborah Cai and Colleen Tolan discussed the effects of public shaming and public attacks on social media, the reasons people were silenced, and the principles that helped people be better netizens.

(5) Tenzin Dorjee and Stella Ting-Toomey used the case study of Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) in India to discuss how to use socioecology and identity frameworks to explain complex intergroup conflict.

(6) Sean Eddington, Danielle Corple, Patrice Buzzanell, Carla Zoltowski, and Andrew Brightman conducted interviews and workshops to discuss how to facilitate difficult conversations in natural sciences program such as engineering.

The above quick summary does not do justice to these well-written articles. Please read the entire issue for details. If you are like me, you will find these articles greatly beneficial in guiding conversations in class and with colleagues and family alike.

NCMR’s transition from Wiley to Janeway as an Open Access Open Science journal has been going smoothly. Carnegie Mellon University Library Publishing Service has been helping with NCMR’s data migration. Please expect to see NCMR’s new website early next year.

Please feel free to contact me at with any questions, feedback, or ideas. I’ll be more than happy to meet you at Zoom if you sign up for a meeting via my Calendly link:

Best wishes to you and your loved ones,




Dr. Qi Wang


Negotiation and Conflict Management Research (NCMR)



August Issue: Special Issue 13(3) Articles

Listen Then Talk: Principles and Strategies for Difficult Conversations

in 2020 and Beyond


Talking to the Enemy: Difficult Conversations and Ethnopolitical Conflict

Donald G. Ellis


The article reviews intractability qualities and uses the Israeli‐Palestinian conflict as an example of the difficult conversations that characterize the conflict between competing groups. There are two typical research trends for analyzing group conflict. These are either a rational model or intractable conflict model. The rational model assumes that differences are over realistic issues such as scarce resources. The intractable model focuses on identity and emotions. Intractable conflicts are recalcitrant, nonrational, and particularly resistant to resolution. They generate difficult conversations. The argument here demonstrates how intractability establishes the descriptive conditions for difficult conversations about conflicts. These conditions are incommensurate cultural narratives, narrative particularity, existential threat, power differences, and delegitimization. Islam and the West and the Israelis and Palestinians are used as examples. Finally, such difficult divides must attend to five issues that ameliorate difficult conversations, namely, inclusion, maximization of arguments and reasons, controlling undue influences, dialogic equality, and the value of deliberation.

Imagine All the People: Negotiating and Mediating Moral Concern through Intergroup Encounters

Ifat Maoz and Paul Frosh


Intergroup encounters can often become difficult conversations in which power relations and disagreements are perpetuated and re‐enacted through the interaction and communication between the participating groups. Thus, especially in asymmetric settings, moral inclusion and moral responsibility toward members of other groups are crucial to dialogue, conflict resolution, and reconciliation. Yet it is exactly the circumstances of asymmetry—involving threat and dehumanization—that pose barriers to the elicitation and sustaining of moral concern. Drawing on and integrating two separate research traditions—the psychology of intergroup conflict, dialogue and peace building, and communication research on “mediated suffering”—this article discusses perceptions, representations, and emotions that underlie recognition of and empathy toward the suffering of others with the aim of increasing our understanding of when and how we can be brought—through mediated and unmediated dialogues and encounters—to care about the suffering of others.


Get Complicated: The Effects of Complexity on Conversations over Potentially Intractable Moral Conflicts

Katharina G. Kugler and Peter T. Coleman


Conflicts over important moral differences can divide communities and trap people in destructive spirals of enmity that become intractable. But these conflicts can also be managed constructively. Two laboratory studies investigating the underlying social–psychological dynamics of more tractable versus intractable moral conflicts are presented, which tested a core proposition derived from a dynamical systems theory of intractable conflict. It portrays more intractable conflicts as those, which have lost the complexity inherent to more constructive social relations and have collapsed into overly simplified, closed patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting that resist change. Employing our Difficult Conversations Lab paradigm in which participants engage in genuine discussions over moral differences, we found that higher levels of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral complexity were associated with more tractable conversations. Whereas in a pilot study we examined conflicts that naturally became more/less intractable, in our main experiment, high versus low levels of cognitive complexity were induced.


Public Shaming and Attacks on Social Media: The Case of White Evangelical Christians

Deborah A. Cai and Colleen Tolan


In this article, we compare public shaming with attacks on social media by looking at how these tactics have been used regarding White Evangelical Christians in the United States within the current political climate. We first examine public shaming historically and then in its current form on social media. Then, we differentiate shaming from attacks and argue that this distinction is vital for understanding the goals and motives of online use of these tactics. By making this comparison, we can identify the motives and goals of using these types of posts. We conclude with considerations and recommendations about conflict on social media.


Understanding Intergroup Conflict Complexity: An Application of the Socioecological Framework and the Integrative Identity Negotiation Theory

Tenzin Dorjee and Stella Ting‐Toomey


This research article used a controversial in‐progress conflict case story, namely the Citizenship Amendment Act in India, to illustrate the benefit of using a combined socioecological framework and integrative identity negotiation theory in explaining intergroup conflict complexity. The essay is structured in four sections. First, we present a highly controversial conflict case story of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that was recently passed in India. The real‐life case story is embedded in the nexus of multifaceted identity conflict and multileveled socioecological interpretations. Second, we introduce the socioecological (SE) framework and its essential principles and illustrative examples of the various levels of analysis. Third, we review selective assumptions of the integrative identity negotiation theory (IINT) and, together with the SE framework, analyze the CAA India case story with explanatory depth and multilevel insights. Fourth, we conclude with a summary and seven strategy recommendations that can be applied to managing polarized intergroup conflict complexity constructively.


Addressing Organizational Cultural Conflicts in Engineering with Design Thinking

Sean M. Eddington, Danielle Corple, Patrice M. Buzzanell, Carla Zoltowski, and Andrew Brightman


The present study examined how design thinking processes help to facilitate difficult conversations for fostering organizational change toward greater inclusion and equity in undergraduate engineering programs. Regardless of the type of organization or institution, sustainable diversity and inclusion integration requires difficult conversations that can correspond with locale‐specific interventions and deep cultural transformation. We led a series of design sessions with stakeholders from two undergraduate engineering programs at a large, Midwestern, research university aimed at creating prototype solutions to diversity and inclusion problems. Following the sessions, we conducted interviews with 19 stakeholders to understand their perceptions of the design process in facilitating both difficult conversations and in enacting meaningful change. Our study uncovered that organizational cultures impacted participants’ perceptions of change possibilities and their role in change. We conclude with recommendations for adopting design practices and communication‐as‐design processes to create structures and interactive approaches for facilitating conversations toward inclusionary organizational change.


Featured Special Issue 13(3) Article and Authors 


Public Shaming and Attacks on Social Media: The Case of White Evangelical Christians

Deborah A. Cai and Colleen Tolan

Within a climate of division and outrage, social media serves as both an outlet for individual expression and a venue for bringing attention to collective concerns. In this article, public shaming and public attacks are differentiated for the role they play online either to attempt to restore others to a community or to build cohesion within a community against a vilified enemy. By understanding the goals of these tactics, we can differentiate what is considered fair or unfair messaging used to achieve those goals. In a time when constructive dialogue can restore trust and respect, this article examines the function of online shaming and attacks in light of what we know about effective communication for managing conflicts.


In this article, we compare public shaming with attacks on social media

by looking at how these tactics have been used regarding White Evangelical

Christians in the United States within the current political climate.

We first examine public shaming historically and then in its current form

on social media. Then, we differentiate shaming from attacks and argue

that this distinction is vital for understanding the goals and motives of

online use of these tactics. By making this comparison, we can identify

the motives and goals of using these types of posts. We conclude with

considerations and recommendations about conflict on social media.


Deborah A. Cai (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is professor and senior associate dean in the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University, and she is a faculty member in the Media and Communication doctoral program and in the Department of Communication and Social Influence. Deborah is an international researcher with scholarly and professional expertise in intercultural communication, persuasion, negotiation and conflict management. She has conducted research in China, Japan, and the U.S., and she has trained political and business leaders in from Afghanistan, China, and developing nations from APEC. Deborah is a Fellow in the International Academy of Intercultural Researchers and Past-President of the International Association for Conflict Management. She served as editor of the journal, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, and is editor of a four-volume collection of research, Intercultural Communication (Sage, Benchmark in Communication). Her research has been published in outlets such as Communication Monographs, Communication Research, Communication Yearbook, Human Communication Research, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, and The SAGE Handbook of Communication and Conflict and The SAGE Handbook of Persuasion. Contact:; Web:

Colleen Tolan is a Ph.D student in Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University. Her primary research interest is conflict communication. Specifically, she studies interpersonal processes related to decision making and managing conflict in a cross-discipline nature, drawing upon social and cognitive psychology as well as behavioral economics and media studies. Currently, she serves as the editorial assistant for the Journal of Communication under editor Dr. Lance Holbert. Contact: Web:



November Issue: 13(4) Articles


Why are Women Less Likely to Negotiate? The Influence of Expectancy Considerations and Contextual Framing on Gender Differences in the Initiation of Negotiation

Julia A. M. Reif, Katharina G. Kugler, and Felix C. Brodbeck


According to social role theory, women are less likely to initiate negotiations and have lower expectancies about negotiation success because the feminine gender role is inconsistent with the negotiator role. However, gender differences should be amplified in masculine contexts (with even more inconsistency between the negotiator role and the feminine gender role) and reduced in feminine contexts (with more consistency between the negotiator role and the feminine gender role). We showed in Study 1 (N = 1,306 students) that negotiators’ expectancies about being successful in negotiations mediated the effect of gender on real retrospective negotiation behavior. In Study 2, an online scenario experiment (N = 167 students and employees), we found that the framing of the negotiation context (feminine vs. masculine) moderated the mediation effect. We provide implications for theory, practice, and research methods by unearthing mechanisms and moderators of gender differences in the area of negotiations.



There is No Away: Where Do People Go When They Avoid an Interpersonal Conflict?

Dale Hample and Jessica Marie Hample


When people avoid conflict, there is no “away.” Where do they go physically or mentally? Both engaging and avoiding have a push and a pull. If we knew where avoiders go, we could study the pull of avoidance. This is a descriptive study (N = 446) of interpersonal conflict. We found that physical and mental avoidance appeared with similar frequency, and that they could occur in combination. People often recognized their need for avoidance early, based on the topic being familiar or various signals of trouble. Avoidance during the conflict could be physical or mental, but notably involved false agreement or topic manipulation. The possibility of violence (physical, verbal, or emotional) was often relevant. Relationship worries frequently motivated the avoidance. After the avoidance rumination was common, often centering on what we called “festering anger.”



Value from Control: Subjective Valuations of Negotiations by Principals and Agents

Adi Amit


The use of agents in negotiations is ubiquitous. Little is known, however, about the divergent psychological experiences of agents and principals in negotiations and their potential downstream consequences. The current research investigated how one’s role in a negotiation (as a principal or an agent) affects feelings of control, and how these feelings determine subjective value. In Studies 1 and 2, participants were randomly assigned to role-play principals or agents in deal-making negotiations. In both studies, agents reported feeling more control than principals, and control positively predicted the subjective value derived from the negotiation. In Studies 3 and 4, experimentally enhancing feelings of control influenced subjective value for principals. These findings point to the potential psychological costs of using agents. The findings advance research on subjective value in negotiations and highlight the critical role of control in principal–agent relationships.



Valuing Cooperation and Constructive Controversy: A Tribute to David W. Johnson

Dean Tjosvold, Daniel Druckman, Roger T. Johnson, Karl A. Smith, and Cary Roseth


The International Association of Conflict Management awarded David Johnson the Jeffrey Rubin Theory-to-Practice Award for professional achievement in 2010. To extend this recognition of David, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research invited us to publish this tribute. We begin with Dean Tjosvold’s discussion of David’s career. Daniel Druckman describes David’s research on constructive controversy and team performance. Roger Johnson outlines how David and he laid the foundations of cooperative learning. Karl Smith describes the development of intellectual disagreement to promote decision-making. Cary Roseth shows the persistence and skill needed for David’s meta-analyses on the effects of cooperation and competition on learning. Finally, David responds to three questions developed by the contributors.



Featured 13(4) Article and Authors


There is No Away: Where Do People Go When They Avoid an Interpersonal Conflict?

Dale Hample and Jessica Marie Hample


We know that there are a multitude of approaches that one can take to conflict management. We have books, courses, and even entire graduate programs teaching negotiation, mediation and so on. However, one reaction to conflict – avoidance – remains mostly unexplored. This article presents findings about the character and context of conflict avoidance.

Participants (n = 446) were asked to describe a “potential conflict that [they] avoided.” Responses were content analyzed and combined with a number of closed-ended and demographic questions to create a clearer understanding of conflict avoidance.

We found that physical (e.g., leaving the room) and mental (e.g., changing the topic) avoidance were equally common, with each occurring about 52% of the time. When avoiding a conflict, people generally retreat to something familiar - a physical place (85% of physical avoiders), an idea (75% of mental avoiders), or a conversational topic (75% of topic changes during the argument).

Many of the avoided conflicts were serial in nature – 44% of participants reporting having engaged in the conflict before and 53% reported that they expected the conflict to recur. Two-thirds (66%) of participants reported actively planning for future encounters on the same topic. We coded those plans as constructive 37% of the time; destructive 6% of the time; and avoidant 23% of the time.

Conflicts were often (39% of the time) avoided before they began, suggesting that avoidance may be a common strategy for foreseeable conflicts. Conflicts were most often avoided when the participant perceived a possible threat to their relationship (31%) or to their own self-image (26%). Threats of emotional explosion (21%) and violence (19%) also triggered avoidance. Avoided conflicts were often those with emotional stakes (50%) or relational stakes (41%). Utilitarian concerns, like the loss of material resources, appeared only 11% of the time, suggesting that emotional and relational concerns are most likely to lead to conflict avoidance.

It is clear from the data reported that avoidance is more than just an absence of an interesting response; rather, it is itself an affirmative and strategic reaction to conflict. As such, further research into conflict avoidance, its character, and the circumstances that lead to it is necessary.


Dale Hample received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1975. He teaches communication at the University of Maryland, after a longer stint at Western Illinois University. His main research interests are interpersonal arguing, conflict management, and interpersonal communication. He has written two books, Arguing: Exchanging Reasons Face to Face (2005, Erlbaum) and Interpersonal Arguing (2018, Peter Lang), both of which won the G. R. Miller book award from the Interpersonal Division of the National Communication Association. In collaboration with Judith M. Dallinger, he developed theory and scales for the study of taking conflict personally.

Jessica M. Hample is an Assistant Professor and the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She received her Ph.D. in health communication from the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University in 2018. She also holds an M.A. in communication from Western Illinois University. She researches health communication, persuasion, and advanced methodology. Her previous research has dealt with vaccine hesitance, message production, and fear appeals.