We back our national mediation and negotiation practice with our innovative research at BCS Dispute Resolution Research Institute. We study game theory, applied psychoanalysis, attachment theory and other important elements of conflict in order to bring you a scientifically-based service.
We are truly excited to go to work every day, and especially hopeful that our work can, in some way, contribute to a more evolved, more cooperative, and more peaceful process for the resolution of conflict and disagreement. We find that one’s cultural framework, personal perceptions, and family history can play a major role in how he or she chooses to approach a conflict resolution process. Thus, we focus on applied psychoanalysis, which can help us discover and understand how a person sees potential resolution with his or he conflict partner or partners.
This belief has led to a number of related research projects at BCS Dispute Resolution Science and the Existential Psychoanalytic Institute & Society that focus in this direction. We also find great value to use the toolkits of mathematics and logic in our work, which helps us create rational and analytic structures for various conceptual problems that arise in our cases. For example, game theory and fair division mathematics are a regular component of much of the work we do for our clients. We also use any other discourse, conceptual took, or successful technique in our practice, and regularly test them in our research. For example, we use our own form of discourse analysis to understand our clients at a deeper level, and what they are trying to say within the language of conflict.
Here is a sample of some of the research we are doing at BCS and EPIS:
Applied Psychoanalysis Research
We are investigating different psychoanalytic and meta-psychological models as an innovative basis for understanding possibilities for conflict resolution for specific individuals. This goes beyond personality approaches or behavioral approaches, which have a misleading meta-psychological notion that we can work solely in consciousness. In contrast, we believe that we need to entertain the unconscious as an important factor in agency, attitude, and algorithmic function in resolution processes. This often involves the decoding of language to understand what deeper issues are at play in a conflict resolution such as divorce, business negotiation, or land/water issues, or human/animal issues. We have written an introductory text in the use of psychoanalysis in mediation, which is entitled The Myth of Mediation Neutrality, available on Amazon.com. In this text, we outline three different psychoanalytic approaches to solving conflict, such as the existential-phenomenological, the structural-linguistic, and the classical psychoanalytic. We do show that there is an important connection between latent and unconscious issues and one’s approach to conflict.
Game Theory Research
We are investigating and cataloguing the various games that people play in conflict. Some of them are conscious; others, more unconscious, but all of them are intentional and distortive, and all are expressions of anxiety. For example, some people try to conquer and dominate. Others are passive. Still others try to place a Band-Aid on conflict as an avoidance technique which, in the end, is ineffective. So far, we have identified dozens of primary games that people play in conflict, along with a number of variations of each. We also are trying to understand the conjunction of games that two or more people may play in conflict, and how that affects resolution solution sets. A few years ago, we wrote and published an introductory text entitled A Game Theory Approach to Mediation, which, while introductory, is a good beginning inquiry for a professional mediator. By understanding the games that people play in conflict we can come to understand their history of trauma, which gives us important clues for our work. We can also understand more analytically what the actual resolution possibilities are. We are currently working on additional volumes in the series and hope to provide helpful case studies and methods for practitioners as we develop these texts.
Current Research Projects
- We are part of a research team that is building mathematical algorithms that can be used for professionals and clients alike. These will become software applications that can aid end-users in real time.
- We are hard at work examining how humans’ propensity for aggression and violence is a factor in conflict resolution possibilities. We hope to have a text for theorists and professionals that they can use for further work and technique..
- In conjunction with the 3RiverzCreative Design Science Institute, we are developing mediation spaces—both virtual and physical—that are sensitive to game theoretical factors in space and time.