Coleman, P. T., Vallacher, R., Nowak, A., & Bui-Wrzosinska, L. (2007). Intractable conflict as an attractor: Presenting a dynamical model of conflict, escalation, and intractability. American Behavioral Scientist, 50(11), 1454-1475.
Decades of research on social conflict has contributed to our understanding of a variety of key psychological, social, and community-based aspects of conflict escalation and intractability. However, the field has yet to put forth a formal theoretical model that links these components to the basic underlying mechanisms that account for intractability and transformation. This paper presents such a model: a dynamical-systems model of intractable conflict. We propose that it is particularly useful to conceptualize ongoing, destructive patterns of intractable conflict as strong attractors: a particular form of self-organization of multiple elements of conflict systems, including psychological, social, and community-level factors. Our dynamical model of conflict intractability is specified, and some preliminary implications of this approach for conflict de-escalation are discussed.