ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (2): 235-242.

Moderating effects of conflict types on disappointment in interpersonal conflict

TAO Aihua; LIU Yonghe; WANG Pei

1.  (Department of Psychology, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200234, China)
• Received:2017-01-31 Published:2018-02-25 Online:2017-12-26
• Contact: WANG Pei, E-mail: wangpei1970@163.com
• Supported by:

Abstract:  Disappointment arises when the progress towards a goal is below expectation or when a desired outcome has not been achieved. The experience of disappointment is associated with the feeling of weakness more so than the experience of other emotions, accompanied by a tendency to do nothing and get away from the situation. Disappointment influences the expresser,s through sending messages that the negotiators have high expectations and demands. This may also evoke sense of helplessness. All of them make people have a strong feeling of competition. The way people cognitively appraise a performance situation is important because it may affect people’s levels of attack. Thus, for example, “threat” appraisals are central to interpersonal conflict. Disappointment also has an effect on the threat appraisals. Conflict types can broadly divide into those interest-based conflicts and value-based conflicts. Interest conflicts are conflicts about the division of scarce resources such as time, territory, or money. Value conflicts are conflicts about issues in which personal norms and values play a role. Values are people’s beliefs about what is important in life, of what is right or wrong, and how the world should be. In contrast to resources, values are often more central to people’s identities, they are often more abstract and cannot be traded off. As values are often more closely tied to people’s identities, the conflict types have an effect on intrapersonal effect of disappointment. The intrapersonal effect of disappointment means disappointment expressions influence expressers by cognitively appraising a performance situation. As mentioned above, Disappointment play an important role in conflict resolution. Disappointment generates helping and compensation behaviours for self. Previous work has shown that negotiators tend to concede when confronted with disappointment. We postulated that this effect occurred in conflicts on interests, but not on values. Value conflicts are more closely related to a person’s values, norms, and identity, expressions of disappointment are likely to backfire. In two experiments, we used “the ultimatum game” and “assurance game” paradigm to investigate the moderating role of the type of conflict. Results indicated that: (i) people expressed disappointment with higher threat scores in value conflict than in interest conflicts, (ii) but people were less likely to engage in revenge and escalatory behaviours when confronted with an disappoint reaction in value conflict than in interest conflict. In addition, the current series of studies provide some useful strategies to resolve interpersonal conflicts. On practical implications, this research examines the social psychological mechanism underlying interpersonal conflicts in China and would help managers and administrators understand ways to resolve interpersonal conflicts.

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