Bargaining and negotiation are the most constructive ways to handle conflict. Economic prosperity, order, harmony, and enduring social relationships are more likely to be reached by parties who decide to work together toward agreements that satisfy everyone’s interests than by parties who fight openly, dominate one another, break off contact, or take their dispute to an authority to resolve. There are two major research paradigms: distributive and integrative negotiation. Distributive negotiation (“bargaining”) focuses on dividing scarce resources and is studied in social dilemma research. Integrative negotiation focuses on finding mutually beneficial agreements and is studied in decision-making negotiation tasks with multiple issues. Negotiation behavior can be categorized by five different styles: distributive negotiation is characterized by forcing, compromising, or yielding behavior in which each party gives and takes; integrative negotiation is characterized by problem-solving behavior in which parties search for mutually beneficial agreements. Avoiding is the fifth negotiation style, in which parties do not negotiate. Cognitions (what people think about the negotiation) and emotions (how they feel about the negotiation and the other party) affect negotiation behavior and outcomes. Most cognitive biases hinder the attainment of integrative agreements. Emotions have intrapersonal and interpersonal effects, and can help or hinder the negotiation. Aspects of the social context, such as gender, power, cultural differences, and group constellations, affect negotiation behaviors and outcomes as well. Although gender differences in negotiation exist, they are generally small and are usually caused by stereotypical ideas about gender and negotiation. Power differences affect negotiation in such a way that the more powerful party usually has an advantage. Different cultural norms dictate how people will behave in a negotiation. Aspects of the situational context of a negotiation are, for example, time, communication media, and conflict issues. Communication media differ in whether they contain visual and acoustic channels, and whether they permit synchronous communication. The richness of the communication channel can help unacquainted negotiators to reach a good agreement, yet it can lead negotiators with a negative relationship into a conflict spiral. Conflict issues can be roughly categorized in scarce resources (money, time, land) on the one hand, and norms and values on the other. Negotiation is more feasible when dividing scarce resources, and when norms and values are at play in the negotiation, people generally have a harder time to find agreements, since the usual give and take is no longer feasible. Areas of future research include communication, ethics, physiological or hormonal correlates, or personality factors in negotiations.
Wolfgang Steinel and Fieke Harinck
Mediation is a process of managing or resolving a conflict through the intervention of a third party, based on the consent of the combatants. It is one of the primary diplomatic tools available to third parties seeking to decrease violence, find joint agreements on conflictual issues, and transform bellicose relationships. There are different types of mediators. While mediators are always individuals, the mediating agency providing the basis for mediation in interstate conflicts and civil wars can be a single country, formal or informal groups of countries, regional or global intergovernmental organizations, civil society organizations inside or outside the country in conflict, or even, occasionally, individuals acting on their own. These different types of mediators all take actions bringing the parties together toward an agreement on the substance of the conflict or on the procedure for managing it, without relying on the use of direct force or a law-based authority. However, they differ in their motivations, styles, access to—as well as leverage over—the parties, degree of biasness and neutrality, and their ability for internal coordination. On the path from war to peace, mediation plays an important role. Mediators contribute with marginal but important tasks in the process, including the diagnosis of the problem, getting the parties to the table, finding a formula for a settlement, and helping to work out implementation guarantees as well as many other duties. In order to perform these tasks, mediators need to build trust, mount pressure, and sometimes do both. However, mediation is not the only factor and often not the primary one behind the peaceful settlement of armed conflicts. Whereas there are many structural similarities when mediating between governments (interstate conflicts) versus between governments and nonstate armed actors (civil wars), the primary difference is that civil war contexts are permeated more intensively by issues relating to international recognition, power asymmetry, fragmentation, and complexity.