If we disagree with someone, we typically view the other person as more influenced by bias than are we. That perception of bias can be a monumental obstacle to conflict resolution. But what to do about perception bias? In their chapter "Bias Perception and the Spiral of Conflict," in Ideology, Psychology, and Law, Kathleen Kennedy and Emily Pronin suggest three methods of increasing success in conflict resolution and lessening the influence of this conflict spiral. All three are briefly summarized in this blog post at Law and Mind.
Of course, the one that most caught my attention was that related to self-awareness, a common theme around this blog and Brains on Purpose.
2. Introspective education – This strategy works to induce individuals to see themselves as less objective. By recognizing their own capacity for bias, individuals might be better equipped to resolve their conflicts peacefully once they realize that the other side, while biased, is no more biased than oneself and, therefore, likely has some rational reasons for believing what they believe. A mediator can implement this strategy by educating individuals on the psychology of implicit biases and providing them with concrete demonstrations of their own implicit attitudes (by administering the IAT [different link], for example).
The Implicit Association Test IAT has come under a lot of criticism (see, e.g., this article) and I would not recommend it as a method of increasing awareness of bias. However, increasing the self-awareness of parties to a dispute can be very helpful. The role of the mediator in educating parties about concepts such as bias perception and other components of self-awareness (i.e., how their brains and minds operate in conflict) is not agreed upon among mediators. Many think that kind of education is outside the purview of the conflict professional. What do you think?