Can there be rationality after a conflict? In principle, the most normal thing to think is no. After a conflict, thinking rationally about cooperation, even if it is to our advantage, seems strange. But it gets even stranger when this happens at the group level.
When our group comes into conflict with another, the members of the other group will awaken negative emotions in us and, therefore, our behavior towards them will be negative, even if it can harm us.
However, this is not always the case. In other cases we can tend towards rationality after the conflict . For example, when decisions are made in a group, they are deliberated in a more relaxed way. As a result, more rational decisions will be made, including that of cooperating with the opposing group.
The history of evolution is full of conflicts, some of which have led to the use of violence against other groups. The conception of a harmonious and conflict-free life is increasingly questioned. Furthermore, inter-group violence appears to have provided some benefits, for example in reproductive terms.
On the other hand, history also teaches us that we don’t always come into conflict with other groups, but we also establish bonds of trust and cooperation for the benefit of both.
We are faced with a paradox in which contradictory behaviors coexist. Cooperation on the one hand and aggression on the other. The importance of understanding when one or the other behavior occurs will be seen in post-conflict management.
In this sense, after a conflict, emotional wounds may remain that do not allow it to be resolved. The parties find cooperation impossible, depriving themselves of the benefits they could obtain, both in economic terms and in terms of human lives.
To know if we use rationality after a conflict, we need to turn to psychology, especially the theories that tell us about decision making. In this regard, the dual theory proposes the existence of two decision-making modes:
- Decisions made after processing rational, moderate and deliberative information.
- Automatic decisions based on past experience and emotions.
In case of conflict, the other group can convert into the stimulus that automatically generates negative emotions.
This type of association is what leads us to use the second decision-making modality. In this case, we prefer to trust our emotions and past experiences.
However, this mode has its drawbacks: experience may not be the best resource for evaluating the consequences of our decisions.
However, rationality, the first decision-making modality, becomes probable when the people involved in the conflict deliberate as a group. When group members discuss rationally about the best decision to make.
Therefore, they will be able to ignore their experience and emotions, opting for more rational decisions, such as cooperation.
Rationality after a conflict
The conclusion we can draw is that the group, as a rule and in this sense, has a civilizing role.
While groups can act irrationally and put pressure on members when making decisions, at the same time they provide an environment in which discussion is encouraged. Which allows you to correct mistakes when making decisions.
This is applicable to existing conflicts if we are looking for a solution. Inviting participants to consider different alternatives will make them more likely to opt for cooperation.
In this sense, rational thinking, as a human faculty, will allow us to advance towards a better society.