Welcome to the Conflict Resolution (CORE) Lab
One of the unfortunate certainties of life is that we sometimes hurt people we care about, and they sometimes hurt us. Luckily, these conflict events do not have to be detrimental to our relationships. When people respond constructively, conflicts can be functional and actually contribute to positive relationship outcomes. What guides people toward more constructive versus destructive responses in conflict contexts? In the CORE lab, we focus on understanding the psychological experience of harming others (the transgressor’s perspective) and being harmed by others (the victim’s perspective), with a focus on the predictors and consequences of various responses to these acts of harm. Much of the work we conduct aims to identify the psychological barriers that transgressors and victims face when deciding how to respond to each other. For example, what stands in the way of a transgressor offering a heartfelt apology that has the power to mend a valued relationship? What moves a victim towards forgiveness rather than revenge? Understanding the psychological processes underlying various responses to conflict provides useful information about what active psychological ingredients might be targeted to promote more constructive behavior. In addition to examining the predictors of responses to conflict, we also seek to understand the consequences of these responses. How do the responses that transgressors and victims choose impact their relational, psychological, and physiological well-being, both in the short and long term? Under what circumstances and for whom are certain responses more beneficial than others?
In a second program of research, we seek to build a bridge between political opponents. The last decade has seen historic levels of partisan division in American politics. Disputes over politics have entered people’s homes, taking over their dinner conversations and straining their relationships. Partisans demonize the other side, judging their values to be inferior and immoral. Rather than seek understanding across the aisle, people have come to believe it is appropriate to shut out, talk over, or even spew hatred at people who do not share their political values and perspectives. Although considered normative, this political division is threatening the very fabric of our society: a functioning democracy and valued social relationships. In the CORE lab, we are working to understand how we can motivate people to reach across the political divide to learn about the other side. Can learning about our political opponents' lives allow us to see them as more human? Can we invest effort to understand and empathize with them, rather than reduce them to an ideological stereotype? How can we learn to engage in constructive dialogue with those across the aisle?
In the CORE lab, we strive to answer these types of questions by conducting theory-guided research that can have important applications to the real world. To this end, we employ diverse methods that allow us to establish causal mechanisms while also preserving the richness and complexity of the processes we are examining. If you are interested in joining or learning more about the CORE lab, please contact the lab director, Karina Schumann, at email@example.com.