Peace Studies Glossary
By Joanie Connors, Ph.D.
Compiled from classes in peace ethics, sociology of peace and interpersonal peace
This peace glossary was developed for 3 new courses (Interpersonal Peacemaking, Ethics of Peace and Conflict Resolution, Sociology of Peace and Conflict) that I taught recently at Western New Mexico University. I had to create course materials from scratch for all three of these courses as only the ethics course had been taught before and it had no textbook, only a series of readings.
Peace Studies’ courses like these are challenging to students who have been brought up with limited worldviews and right/wrong thinking. Glossaries are important for students of varying backgrounds to be on the same page in studying any subject, but they are especially needed for courses that challenge status quo thinking.
In addition to covering generally accepted terms in peace and conflict resolution, this glossary includes the systems perspective and interpersonal science. I hope that this glossary will help those of you who carry on that work, which is so important in our divided world!
– Joanie Connors, Ph.D.
Abandonment – to give up; discontinue or withdraw from something you began before completion; (as distinguished from child abandonment) not to complete one’s work or project for a client as mutually agreed upon; clients may feel strong negative emotions when we do not fulfill our promises as peacemakers and professionals.
Abstract concepts – generalized ideas, qualities or concepts considered apart from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances; an idea or concept formulated by extracting common qualities from specific examples; the highest level of abstract concepts are those most removed from reality (God, truth, love).
Abuse – to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way, whether physically, sexually, verbally or psychologically; includes – to use harsh and insulting language to or about someone; to force sexual activity on; rape or molest; to strike (hit, kick, throw things at, trip) someone with the intention of causing injury or pain.
Accommodation – inhibition of the impulse to behave destructively in response to someone’s destructive behavior; essentially requires the individual to “turn the other cheek”; Also, inhibiting negative explanations of their behavior; similar to editing (paying attention to only the relevant issues and ignoring cheap shots) but refers to a general response strategy.
Accountability – the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.
Accountability – the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.
Active Listening – (Gordon, Rogers) a set of skills for empowering listening when communication has broken down; includes giving full attention, suspending judgment, seeing other’s experiences as they do, encouraging, clarifying, summarizing, asking for elaboration and verbally empathizing.
Adaptive capacity – an inborn ability for systems to remain functionally stable (resilient) in the face of stress (perturbations), helping to minimize loss of function in individual human and collective social systems.
Addiction – a total focus of one’s life on a drug (e.g., alcohol, methamphetamine) to the point where it becomes more important than anything (career, health) or anyone (spouse, children, friends) else, eventually causing great harm.
Adolescence – the transition period from childhood to adulthood, extending from puberty to financial and social independence.
Adversarial – involving, reacting to, or referring to others as if they were opponents, enemies or foes.
Advocacy services – services designed to support and help specific populations who are at risk of violence (children, elders) or other serious difficulties (at-risk teens, unemployed groups).
Agape – universal, selfless, altruistic, and unconditional love; similar to parental love, working to benefit others; secondary love style, derived from Eros and Storge, characterized by generosity, selflessness, and altruism.
Aggression – physical, sexual, psychological or verbal actions taken to cause harm to another or deprive them of something they want regardless of the consequences; can be direct (open intention to harm or violent intent) or indirect with a hidden intention (passive aggression).
Aggressive cues – events or things in the environment that signal memories and concepts related to aggression; for example, guns are a strong cue found in aggression research.
Agreeableness – having the quality of being friendly, generous, respectful and willing to consider the feelings of others.
Ahimsa – (Gandhi) nonviolence, the practice of spiritual love; this means you want to avoid causing suffering for those who oppose you (the ‘enemy’), and possibly even help them.
Alcohol use / abuse – “use” simply implies regular consumption of some alcoholic beverages, while “abuse” signifies that enough alcohol is consumed habitually that some harm is caused, whether to oneself, loved ones or work functioning; in family violence research, it appears that this distinction is irrelevant and both are associated with greater risk of violence in the family, possibly because of the disinhibiting role that alcohol plays in aggressive behavior.
Alliance building – recognizing important individuals and groups within and outside of the environment of a conflict and initiating positive connections to enlist their help, resources and power in improving and healing conflicts and other difficulties.
Altruism – having the intention or motivation to help or be of benefit to other individuals or groups, and/or in general working for the common good.
Androcentric bias – considering the male experience as the norm, while the female experience is ignored or considered abnormal.
Anger – an uncomfortable emotional response related to the belief of having been disrespected, threatened, wronged or denied; can be intense, with high physical arousal and low impulse control often leading to verbal attacks and destructive behaviors; chronic anger is a tendency to collect injustices that one may feel constantly outraged about.
Angry conflict – conflict that is intensified because of the strong presence of anger, often including abusive language and escalating into very destructive behaviors (especially violence) that terrify and harm the relationship.
Animal Rights – a range of positions on the rights of animals relative to people, ranging from very conservative (animals are things to be used for people’s wishes) to centrist (animals should be treated humanely but are property and do not have rights) to utilitarian (animals have the right to have their basic interests considered) to radical (animals are companions not property).
Animal Welfare – a movement to prevent the unnecessary suffering of animals, especially cruelty, neglect and restrictive confinement; typified by the Humane Society.
Anthropocentrism – beliefs that hold that humans come first and that nature should serve human needs; seeing nature as having value to the extent that it is useful.
Antisocial – motivated primarily to benefit oneself without regard to the rights or needs of others; the extreme of antisocial pathology is a personality disorder marked by disregard for others to the point of being willing to cause harm or even kill others in order to get what one wants; colloquially antisocial can mean someone who is unpleasant and unsociable.
Antisocial behavior – harmful or exploitative actions in which the person (usually male) exhibits a lack of consciousness of wrongdoing (even with friends and family members); may also be aggressive and/or drug/alcohol related actions; during adolescence, this may be called delinquency or delinquent behavior.
Anxiety – an unpleasant emotional / physiological state in response to real or imagined fears or stressors; while anxiety is a normal reaction to difficulties, it can become habitualized and/or excessive, leading to lowered functioning and anxiety disorders.
Anxious attachment (fearful) – having a negative mental model of caregivers and other intimates as unreliable and unable to provide comfort in times of distress; a person who has anxious attachment is uncomfortable being close to others, distrusts others, and fears rejection and being hurt by others; an anxiously attached child remains distressed, even when caregivers attempt to comfort her; an anxiously attached adult is clingy and constantly worried about friends and family.
Arousal – a physical/emotional reaction that leads to increased heart rate and blood pressure and a condition of sensory alertness, mobility, readiness to respond and decreased higher order thinking; arousal often accompanies strong emotions and accounts for irrational behaviors that often accompany them (the arousal of anger is associated with increasing risk of violence).
Asserting dominance – establishing and maintaining dominance in an interaction by way of criticism, interruptions, touching or physical gestures.
Assessment – the systematic and objective measurement of knowledge, skills and/or attitudes of individuals (also classes, groups and/or institutions).
Assignment of responsibility for tasks – giving children household chores and other work responsibilities as part of daily/weekly expectations; ideally these are done as developmentally appropriate without high expectations or criticism.
Assumption – a proposition that is taken for granted, as if it were true based upon presupposition without knowing the facts.
At risk – someone who is in serious danger, whether physically (malnutrition, eating disorders), emotionally (trauma survivors, drug experimenters) or socially/interpersonally (drop outs, victims of violence).
Attachment – an emotional connection or bond between individuals; mainly refers to bonds between infants and caregivers, but also refers to adult relationships, especially bonds between romantic partners.
Attachment behavior – behavior that results in the achievement or maintenance of proximity and emotional bonds between one individual and another, as an infant for a mother or an adult for their closest relationships.
Attachment injury – damaged basic trust because of lack of support or comfort from partner or caregiver during danger or distress.
Attachment Theory – theory proposed by John Bowlby which posits that humans are born with an innate relationship seeking mechanism that leads them to stay physically close to others who can protect and nurture them.
Attitudes – the degree of like or dislike for something; a positive or negative mental view that influences behavior and thinking; preexisting judgments.
Attraction – a force tending to draw one person (or group) towards another; can be sexual or romantic in motive, force of personality, or social.
Attraction Theory – theory that proposes that when young teens are in the throes of separation and individuation needs, they will be attracted to others who are aggressive (as opposed to passive) in order to support their independence drives.
Attractiveness stereotype – people ascribe more favorable personality traits (especially social competence) and more successful life outcomes to attractive people, prefer their company and treat them more favorably
Attributional bias – a cognitive bias that affects the way we determine who or what was responsible for an event or action; typically take the form of actor/observer (self-other) differences which affect salience (emotional relevance); also known as social biases.
Attributions – how individuals explain (or attribute causes for) the behavior of others or themselves in order to make sense of their social environment.
Audit – an official (performed by government office or a professional service) examination and verification of accounts and records, esp. of financial account; audits are usually done where there is suspicion of financial misbehavior or incompetence although many organizations perform them regularly to build public confidence.
Authenticity – the quality of being real, dropping pretenses and facades, such as job roles we play; showing our true identity.
Authoritarian parents – parents who have high expectations of compliance to their rules and directions while they do not explain the reasons for them; in addition, they are less warm or responsive to their children’s needs, and are more likely to punish a child rather than discuss what is going on (mnemonic aid – authoritarian = authority terror).
Authoritarian personality – Theodor Adorno’s term for people who believe in absolute obedience or submission to an authority, as well as the administration of that belief through the oppression of ones subordinates; authoritarians also tend to be strongly prejudiced against out groups and rank high on scales of conformity, intolerance, insecurity, respect for authority, and submissiveness to superiors.
Authoritarian/Autocratic leadership – the style of leadership where all power and decision making are concentrated in the top; these leaders make all decisions independent of others’ input and tell others what to do (gives orders); authoritarians can be benevolent, narcissistic, exploitative/destructive or none of these.
Authoritarianism – an extreme belief in the importance of authority, and in the individual’s responsibility to submit to it.
Authoritative parents – (also called ‘assertive democratic’ or ‘balanced’ parenting) is parenting which strives to balance love (warmth, support) and limit setting; this style encourages children to be independent but has reasonable limits on their actions; questioning and discussion of parenting choices is allowed but the parent is the final authority (mnemonic aid – authoritative = authority attentive).
Authority – legally defined position of higher power, or power conferred by a religious organization, academy (based on study) or royal lineage; a delegated or inherited power to control, command, lead, judge or limit (prohibit) what happens to others or what they may do.
Avoidant attachment – mental model of caregiver is that of someone who does not provide comfort at all; an avoidantly attached child is not distressed when left alone and ignores the presence of caregivers; an avoidantly attached adult is a loner who is relatively disinterested in relationships.
Balance – equal distribution of demand, stress, resources and energy among members of a system so that stability and equilibrium are maintained; using your influence or power to realign the distribution within a system (including oneself) so that there is adequate attention to important needs and relative harmony overall.
Balance of power – a rough equality of power between competing nations, groups or individuals.
Basic Needs – (Galtung) food, water, shelter and a healthy environment, particularly for the most impoverished, as the guideline for politics, economics, peace and development.
Batterers remorse – in violent relationships, this is a stage in the cycle of violence where after a period of violent attack, the batterer expresses profound regret and love and promises to change in order to reengage with and control the victim (prevent them from leaving); batterers seldom cease violence until they have accepted full responsibility for their behavior, publicly admitted and rejected their control and abuse tactics, and been able to get help in order to change contributing conditions such as alcohol or drug abuse, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Behavioral asymmetry – Dugan’s term for the tendency for dominant and subordinate group members to act differently according to culturally accepted power roles in a wide variety of situations; “keeping in one’s place”.
Behavioral control – ability of one partner to modify the behavior of the other partner. Mutual behavioral control means both can influence each other, leading to the best eventual outcomes.
Belief – a psychological disposition to think some thing or phenomenon is true or valid.
Belief validation – agreement with another’s attitudes and beliefs; believed to be an important reward that helps explain why similarity produces attraction.
Best Interest – the idea of what might be the optimal choices for someone’s present and future well-being; the doctrine used by most courts to determine a wide range of issues relating to the well-being of children.
Bias – being unable to be objective because of favoring one perspective or one side of a conflict at the expense of (possibly equally valid) alternative perspectives or the other side; biases are often based in errors in judgment, social biases, attributional habits (e.g. self-serving bias), and self-deception (e.g., memory errors, perspective skews).
Blame – to place responsibility for something that is wrong; to find the fault or source of error of a phenomena belongs with one person or group; the dualistic belief that identifying a person or thing as the isolated source of problems will allow us to correct or eliminate it; in couples, this can be seen as a cycle of scapegoating each other.
Boundaries – a concept from systems theory to describe the physical and psychological space we maintain between ourselves and others (or between other things or groups); do we allow ourselves enough separation to meet our needs and maintain our own identity or do we allow others to dominate us and neglect our own needs (poor relationship boundaries); poor boundaries are often found in abusive families and other dysfunctional interpersonal situations.
Boundary openness – all living systems have open, permeable boundaries, but there is a continuum from more open to more closed, with the extremes representing unhealthy pathology; open boundaries allow exchanges with outside elements and situations and may welcome external influences, though if too open or vague, boundaries won’t protect the family or hold it together. Closed boundary systems disconnect members from social support and environmental information, leading to isolation and stagnation.
Bully – a person who is habitually cruel, hurtful (physically &/or mentally) and intimidating towards smaller or weaker people. Bullies are more likely to become antisocial adults, while their victims often suffer from depression and anxiety and are more vulnerable to abuse by others in the future.
Bullying – intentional and repeated physical and/or psychological aggression against a physically weaker or lower power status individual with the aim of robbing, intimidating, humiliating or controlling them; intimidating and oppressing a weaker person with violence, intimidation, exclusion, threats and/or verbal abuse; a common child/teen experience which harms both the abuser and the victim.
Catastrophize – to see a minor error or disappointment as something horrible and to complain about the wrongs associated with it for a great length of time; to make a mountain out of a mole hill.
Catharsis – the process of expressing and releasing unresolved or unrevealed feelings, problems or frustrations when there is an empathic listener present; negative catharsis involves blaming and ranting focused on how the other was wrong & harmful, leading to emotional over-arousal; positive catharsis is focused on “I” messages & describing behaviors.
Caucus –a private conversation with each party in a negotiation or conflict.
Change – to make the form, nature, content, or future of thing, person or group different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone; to undergo transformation or transition; to go from one phase to another, as the moon or the seasons; or as a noun, signifies the act of changing.
Change cycle – sequence of changes of systems, usually initiated by internal or external stresses; change processes can lead to development to higher complexity or to decay.
Change feedback – a relationship dynamic which provides information that presses a system for structural change or adjustment to accommodate a change in needs; information which is shared that presses a system for structural change or adjustment; also called positive feedback.
Change process – naturally occurring or manipulated sequence of changes of a system; change processes can lead to development to higher complexity or to decay.
Change process stages – the phases of change which occur in living things as they move from homeostasis (elements in balance) to noticing changes (internally, externally, in relationships), to feeling stressed or challenged by change information, to a response (to repress challenge (1st order change) or to make a change in structure (2nd order change).
Change resistance – being afraid of change and stuck in habits, so that any suggestions for change or pressure from the environment is seen as threatening; on the individual level, this refers to someone who won’t try new things, behaviors or new places, while on the systemic level, this refers to an organization, region or culture that refuses to change its rules, tactics or perspectives.
Chaos – a state where traditional order starts to break down, a time that is both extremely difficult and stimulating.
Child – biologically, a human between the stages of birth and puberty; legally, “child” generally refers to a minor, a person younger than the age of majority (usually 18, but may be younger or older in some places); the legal transition from childhood, called the ‘age of responsibility’ for committing a crime widely varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Child abuse / Maltreatment – actions that are significantly harmful to a child or minor teen’s well-being, includes – 1) Physical Abuse (intentional or careless infliction of physical harm on a child), 2) Sexual Abuse (any contact of a sexual nature with a child), 3) Psychological / Emotional Abuse (words or actions that communicate to a child that he/she is worthless, or that reject or threaten the child with harm) & 4) Neglect (Inattention to the child’s emotional and/or physical needs, which is twice as common and at least as damaging as abuse)
Child exploitation – using or harming a child for selfish purposes; includes many types of child sex-abuse, using children to manipulate money from others (as for begging in India) or from the government (foster parents who foster for money), selling them for sexual purposes, taking pornographic images of children, or using children in the drug trade and other crimes (because they can’t be held responsible).
Children’s Rights – a range of positions on the rights of children in balance with protecting them and facilitating their developing mental and physical abilities.
Chronic stress – stress that is long-term and has no clear onset or termination
Chronic stressors – prolonged stressors; especially threatening stimuli (ones the individual can neither escape nor destroy) which persist over time and which contribute to general adaptation syndrome. Chronic stressors cause damage through prolonged activation of the body’s stress response; Includes stressful jobs, living in stressful neighborhoods, chronic marital unhappiness.
Circular causation and process – systems theory emphasizes that life does not follow a static linear process of cause and effect, and instead emphasizes that everything evolves in many directions; when anything influences anything, this also affects the causal variable (as well as other variables and the environment as a whole), leading to a circular path.
Civility – being respectful and kind in interactions with other people; treating others as you would like to be treated, as if they matter.
Class stratification – where members of a society are ranked from higher to lower based on wealth, race/ethnicity, position, or education.
Climate (social, family, group, community, school, organizational) – the overall feeling tone within a family, group or community; reflects level of energy, conflict, comfort and ease of being oneself while with them, as well as their welcomeness towards newcomers and outsiders; often described in terms of two dimensions – tension/relaxation and negative/positive.
Coercion – using force, manipulation or intimidation in order to compel another to act against his/her will and/or obtain compliance with your wishes.
Coercive power – (French & Raven, 1960) the ability to force a subordinate to comply with an order through the threat of punishment; typically leads to short-term compliance, but in the long-run produces dysfunctional behavior.
Coexistence – to live in peace with each other despite differences; to share resources harmoniously.
Cognitive ability – a general measure of mental activities associated with thinking; knowing, remembering, discerning, and reasoning; intelligence or IQ.
Cohesiveness – the degree to which a couple, family, group, organization or community is invested in the relationship, thinks it is positive for them, is highly attracted to the connection, enjoys closeness with them and is likely to “stick together” (e.g. spend time, stay together over time, work for mutual benefit, defend from outside threats).
Collaborate – work with others for a common purpose or benefit; cooperate.
Colleagues – generally refers to someone you work with, but more often refers to someone of the same profession or trade.
Collectivist Cultures – socially interdependent cultures in which people view themselves as highly connected to others and often subordinate personal goals to those of the group
Colonialism – the policy of acquiring and maintaining colonies, especially for exploitation of resources and labor; the acquisition, settlement and political control of territory and people by more powerful nation states; normally refers to Western powers’ domination and exploitation of indigenous territories from the late 15th to the 20th century.
Commitment – a vow or intention to maintain a relationship or arrangement; continuing to be loving to someone over time.
Common good – an idealistic concept that represents a value of providing benefit to all or most members of a community; providing a quality of fairness and relative wellbeing to all segments of society.
Common ground – a basis of mutual interest or agreement; this is important to find as a first step for conflict resolution.
Communication – the exchange of thoughts, messages, opinions, or information by speech, writing, actions and/or nonverbal means between two or more people; includes verbal and nonverbal expression and reception (listening, acknowledgment) of messages.
Communication quality – the overall effectiveness of communication in a relationship or an exchange event; how well those interacting are able to convey and understand each other’s messages.
Communication skills – the many skills involved in effective communicating, including active listening skills, ability to give constructive feedback, awareness of cultural styles and clear expressive skills.
Community – a social group of any size whose members may or may not have some contact with each other, who share resources, rules and beliefs, and may have a common cultural heritage; a social system.
Community policing – an approach to law enforcement that encourages interaction, discussion and problem solving meetings between officers of the law and citizens; may include police officers becoming involved in community events, schools and programs and/or involving community members as peacekeepers who call in the police when situations need their interventions.
Complacency – being so determined not to take action that one refuses to look at obvious signs that things are going wrong; for example, parents ignoring a teen who is using drugs, or spouses who ignore signs of unhappiness in their partner.
Complementarity – a characteristic of relationships in which partners complement each other in terms of their needs, personalities, performance and expertise.
Compliance (short-term & long-term) – obeying; following orders of someone with superior status (a parent or other authority figure); short-term compliance means doing as ordered in the immediate present while they are watching you; long-term compliance means following orders over time, so obedience continues out of sight of the authority figure and in other situations; long-term compliance may signify the internalization of values and goals.
Compromise – a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.
Conciliation – to regain goodwill and repair trust by agreeing to cooperate, respect needs and work towards the common good; often depends on using positive language and behavior.
Confidentiality – an ethical principle and law in some places that types of communication between a person and some professionals (lawyers, mediators, psychotherapists, physicians) are “privileged”, the information is limited to that relationship only and may not be discussed or divulged to third parties.
Confidentiality agreement – a legal contract between at least two parties that outlines confidential material, knowledge, or information that should be restricted from disclosure to third parties; legal confidentiality provided for relationships without privilege, such as mediators who are not lawyers.
Confirmation bias – tendency to look for and remember information which supports our preconceptions and to ignore or distort information that contradicts what we already believe.
Confirmation interruptions – interruptions made for the purpose of clarification or to express agreement.
Conflict – the interaction process that occurs when a perceived incompatibility of actions, goals, ideas, needs or desires is expressed in a relationship or community, whether directly shown (arguments, disagreements) or indirectly seen through behaviors (passive aggressive, covert conflict) or signs (frowns, slammed doors); conflict is natural and necessary result of differences between individuals, and can usually be resolved through communication and compromise; in the transformative view of conflict, conflict provides an opportunity for viewing limitations in our relationship dynamics, and for strengthening ourselves by becoming more open, tolerant and adaptive.
Conflict aversion – fear of conflict; being afraid that conflict will damage relationships, therefore avoiding anything controversial.
Conflict context – information about the history of the conflict, cultural factors and its physical and organizational settings; setting from which a conflict emerged and/or which supports the conflict, of if one conflict is nested within another, usually larger conflict or issue (racism, ethnocentrism); see “context of violence”.
Conflict diagnosis – discerning the character and stage of a conflict in order to make more informed decisions on how and when to intervene.
Conflict duration – the length of time that a conflict has existed, especially when expressed; short-term conflicts (disputes) are often easily resolved while long-term conflicts may become deep-rooted, adversarial and make it difficult to find common ground for agreements.
Conflict dynamics – the patterns of behaviors and interpersonal processes occurring between parties in conflict, including how each affects the other, environmental influences and the situation as a whole; constantly moving and changing; includes negative attribution, escalation, adverseness, hostility, cooperativeness and kindness.
Conflict habituated relationships – relationships in which quarreling, arguments and bickering are an accepted part of life together.
Conflict issues – concerns being disputed in a conflict; it is important to distinguish primary / core issues (those which address needs and power issues) from secondary issues (those which have little consequence in the long-term, such as ego-bolstering perks).
Conflict mapping / inventory – a visual aide to help people understand a conflict; puts into words the players and issues in a conflict; conflict maps use circles and arrows in addition to words, while inventories just provide lists.
Conflict of interest – concept for what happens when a person or group has two or more interests or roles that compete against each other, forcing them to make choices to favor one side and/or disregard the other, ultimately corrupting their loyalty or responsibility to one or both.
Conflict patterns – common cognitive, emotional and behavioral themes, strategies and goals (e.g., self-protection, competition, relationship enhancement) found in conflicting pairs and groups.
Conflict resolution – the methods and processes involved in facilitating the peaceful ending of a conflict, often involving actively communicating conflicting motives or ideologies (e.g., intentions; reasons for holding certain beliefs), and collective negotiation.
Conflict styles – the habitual pattern that people have as to how they approach and deal with conflict; common styles include aggressors, exploders, delayed-exploders, avoiders, compromisers, passive aggressors, naggers and victims; how aggressive or conciliatory one is towards others in relationships.
Conflict temperature – the emotional heat (extremely aroused anger, stress or fear) that is present in a situation, from perfectly calm to boiling over / losing control (e.g., attacking someone out of rage).
Conflict transformation – (Galtung, Lederach) to envision and respond to the ebb and flow of social conflict as life-giving opportunities for creating constructive change processes that reduce violence, increase justice, in direct interaction and social structures, and respond to real life problems in human relationships; transforming mental frameworks, knowledge and skills for handling conflict so that conflict builds positive relationships and social structures; can be done by trained facilitators for a particular conflict situation or as part of overall violence prevention.
Conformity – the process by which people obey the norms and expectations of society, or do and say the same things as others in their social crowd to achieve a sense of security and to avoid the risk of social rejection.
Congruence – signifies agreement between a person’s inner or stated beliefs and their outer behavior; aka walking your talk; sincerity; people who are congruent are usually considered trustworthy.
Consensus – a group decision making process that works for the best possible decision for the group and all of its members, rather than competing for personal preferences; participants contribute to a shared proposal and shape it into a decision that attempts to help everyone get what they need and meets the concerns of all members as much as possible; general agreement on an issue with the input and support of all members.
Constructive change – to transform a person, group or society in positive ways that work better (reduce problems, increase justice) and build new opportunities for growth and fulfilling needs.
Constructive Communication (Connors, 2014) – using thoughtful language and skills so as to convey information, messages and feelings in a way that is not negative, threatening or aggressive.
Constructive conflict – a discussion process that uses creative brainstorming, positive language and listening to collaboratively bring positive changes to better meet the needs of all in a relationship or group.
Constructive feedback – specific, concrete and nonevaluative descriptions of behaviors and interpersonal dynamics observed in order to reduce distortion and improve reception of messages in an interaction.
Contact hypothesis – Allport’s theory (1954) that positive interpersonal contact with those we hold prejudice towards will bring increased knowledge and understanding while also reducing prejudice levels and fears.
Contain – to hold or restrain the power of an aggressor or someone who is doing damage to others even if unintentional; to prevent the expansion of a negative or hostile power.
Context communication (high context vs low context) – communication which depends on the influence of the cultural context; messages in high context cultures leave many things unsaid, letting the culture explain so word choice is very important, since a few words can communicate a complex message very effectively to an in-group (but less effectively outside that group); while for messages in a lower context cultures, the communicator needs to be much more explicit and descriptive, and the value of a single word is less important.
Context of violence – the environment always plays a role in the eruption of violence to a small or large degree; known environmental factors include poverty, economic stress, parental practices, social beliefs (children are property), social myths (women ask to be raped), job opportunities and crime.
Context of violence – the environment always plays a role in the eruption of violence to a small or large degree; known environmental factors include poverty, economic stress, parental practices, social beliefs (children are property), social myths (women ask to be raped), job opportunities and crime.
Continuous causal feedback loop – a condition in which reciprocally causal variables influence each other over time, so that negative leads to negative or positive leads to positive.
Continuum – a progression of values that represent a characteristic; instead of representing a quality of something as either totally good or bad (dualism), to see it as some degree in between with few phenomena at either extreme; true continuums have no divisions.
Contract – an agreement to abide by conditions laid out in response to an issue or situation; can be formal or informal, verbal and/or written; any contract that is voluntary and between two or more competent adults may be legally valid, though being written and witnessed makes that more likely.
Control – a relationship dynamic which reflects how much decision making is shared versus held by one partner (or family member); some important distinctions are whether the one who dominates the relationship uses negative affect or resource control to bully the other into giving them power; and whether the noncontrolling partner is willing to manage a share of the control responsibly or shirks it.
Cooperation – voluntarily working, sharing information and associating with others for common goals and/or mutual beneficial exchange; being willing to contribute effort and resources to the common good of a group or community.
Core values – attitudes and beliefs thought to uniquely pattern a culture.
Corporal punishment – (Gershoff) the use of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain (but not intending injury) for the purpose of correction or control of the child’s behavior.
Corrections – a variety of functions typically carried out by government agencies involving the punishment, treatment, and supervision of persons who have been convicted of crimes.
Costs – in social exchange theory, giving another person a reward usually results in costs to us, such as loss of opportunity, resources, time, etc.
Courage – having the mental and moral strength to do what’s right and persevere despite physical danger, difficulty or the opposition of others.
Covert conflict – uneasy feelings, troubling perceptions, or differences in needs which are not expressed due to fear of being seen as difficult or of gaining someone’s disapproval; covert conflict can be very damaging to group or relationship well-being as individual tensions continue to build when not expressed; conflict between two or more people that is intentionally or unintentionally hidden from others (family, social contacts) and possibly even from themselves.
Crisis – an emotionally stressful, unstable and/or traumatic time when previous coping is no longer productive and change is needed; a point when a conflict or struggle reaches its highest tension and must be resolved as the situation comes to a turning point (bifurcation point).
Crossing professional boundaries – when one mixes professional and personal roles with a client, such as having a friendship or sexual relationship with someone who is paying for your services; sexual relations with a client are always considered unethical because of the potential for exploitation or emotional interference, but forming personal friendships can also create difficulties depending on the circumstances.
Cultural capital – a sociological concept that includes the accumulated cultural knowledge, education and/or skills that bring power and status in a culture, or which might promote social mobility beyond economic means.
Cultural competence – the ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures; includes 5 components – 1) value diversity, 2) conduct self-assessment, 3) manage the dynamics of difference, 4) acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge, and 5) adapt to the diversity and cultural contexts of individuals and communities served; Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures.
Cultural construct – a culturally shared understanding of some aspect of reality, especially social categories such as gender, race, mental illness, and class.
Cultural hegemony – the belief that the dominance of one social group over another (e.g. the ruling class over all other classes) should be seen as the norm and their beliefs are presented as benefiting everyone while primarily benefiting the dominant group.
Cultural imperialism – the practice of valuing and promoting a more powerful culture over a lesser known or desirable culture; generally the former belongs to a large, economically / militarily powerful nation and the latter belongs to a smaller, less powerful one.
Cultural pluralism – a term used when smaller groups within a larger society maintain their unique cultural identities, and their values and practices are accepted by the wider culture.
Cultural prejudice – intolerance or prejudice for people based on their culture and/or the racial or geographical group they are thought to be related to.
Cultural relativism – understanding the ways of other cultures and not judging these practices according to one’s own cultural values and perspectives.
Culture wars – a struggle between two sets of conflicting cultural values, usually a conflict between those valuing tradition and those wanting change, or between values considered traditionalist / conservative with progressive / liberal.
Cyber-bullying – using the Internet, social networking sites and/or cell phones to hurt someone or smear their reputation via emails, blogs, forum posts, text messages, etc.. Teens have even been induced to commit suicide by this kind of aggression, and those who do cyberbullying have been sent to jail.
Cycle of abuse – Lenore Walker’s model of the stages of partner abuse which consists of three basic phases – 1) Tension Building Phase (poor communication, tension, fear of causing outbursts), 2) Violent Episode (dominant behavior, outbursts of violence), 3) Honeymoon Phase (affection, remorse, apology, and apparent end of violence); these cycles are seen as continuing until the dynamics of control and abuse are addressed by both.
Dangerousness – having traits, habits and histories of behavior that indicate one is likely to commit violence (sexual or physical); a high risk level for committing violence as determined by an assessment expert who has experience or training in identifying violent personalities and behaviors; generally found when the person has a history of violence, sees nothing wrong with it, and has motives to continue using violence.
Dating violence / abuse – physical, sexual (rape) and emotional abuse of a dating partner.
Decision-making bias – a bias that detracts from one’s ability to make objective decisions; includes attention biases (such as the negativity bias or confirmation bias) that filter what we see and cognitive biases (e.g., overconfidence) that filter how we process that information.
Deep Ecology – a contemporary philosophy that recognizes the inherent worth of other beings aside from their utility; it emphasizes the interdependent nature of human and non-human life as well as the importance of the ecosystem and natural processes; holds that the living environment as a whole has the right to live and flourish.
Defensive behavior – actions that are motivated by self-protection from actual, perceived or possible threats or criticisms; this may result from negative attribution styles, conflict habituated relationships, or from one partner’s defensiveness triggering the other partner’s defensiveness.
Defensive goals – (also known as avoidance goals) desires to avoid an imagined or known negative end (attack, humiliation, failure); one of three kinds of goals studied in marital research, defensive goals are often associated with negative reciprocity and make it difficult to transform couple behavior (to not go negative) during conflicts.
Dehumanization – the act of degrading people with respect to their value as a person; disrespecting and/or abusing someone and treating them as a lower being, so their social image becomes less than human (e.g., WWII Nazi propaganda of Jews, historical US South treatment of Blacks, sex-trade imagery of women).
Demand-withdraw pattern of conflict – a conflict situation where one partner approaches with a problem or issue to discuss while the other avoids the issue/problem actively or passively; one partner is willing to engage emotionally and verbally, while the other prefers to avoid engagement.
Democratic / participatory leadership – welcomes member input and facilitates group discussion and decision making. This leader type shares plans with the group and offers multiple options for group consideration.
Dependency – the degree to which an individual’s behavior depends on or is influenced by another’s behavior
Depression – a prolonged state of low mood (including sadness, anxiety, emptiness, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, and/or irritability ) accompanied by low energy and inactivity that can decrease physical and social functioning and decrease physical well-being; temporary periods of depressed mood are normal reactions to difficulties and can bring people to self-examine and rethink areas of their lives.
Destructive / Negative conflict – when competition for needs or a disagreement becomes harmful, violent and/or destructive to relationship bonds or individuals; often begins with ugly language and blaming due to incompatible goals; may reflect poor internalized relationship schemas modeled by early caregivers.
Destructive interpersonal dynamics – when a sustained imbalance occurs in the dynamics of power/control, support, change feedback and other feedback in a group or relationship; includes power imbalances, in/out group biases, negative language and messages, and unwillingness to question or change positions that are hurtful or unhealthy.
Destructive / Toxic leadership – a leadership approach that harms people; yelling, using demeaning language, and leading by threats and abusing their power; these leaders intimidate, publicly humiliate, and behave abusively towards employees, and undermine the power of colleagues; they repeatedly violate the interests of the organization to support their own needs and damage the motivation, wellbeing or job satisfaction of subordinates; Toxic leadership is associated with high turnover rate, decline in productivity, less innovation, and internal conflict.
Development / Growth – the process of liberating a system or person from its previous set of limiting conditions.
Deviance – not conforming to accepted norms (or rules or expectations); actions or ways of being that disobey social norms, including formally-enacted rules (e.g., crime), as well as informal violations of social norms (e.g., rejecting folkways and mores); the effects of actions, or reactions to them, are often what makes them deviant.
Dialogue – an equal (or near equal) exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue or set of issues; assumes both listen to each other and are open to ideas or influence.
Didactic instruction – lecturing; explaining what you want another to learn; usually is a one-way interaction, but works best when is shown to be relevant to the listener and some exchange (questioning) is allowed.
Differentiate – to establish conceptual and emotional boundaries between yourself and another person, or between two other people or phenomena; parents often need to allow their children to disagree or be different and not overreact to their independence or try to control them; differentiating between concepts would mean to understand how they are different, such as sympathy and empathy.
Differentiation – the degree to which each relationship or family member is able to maintain his/her own sense of self, while remaining connected to the group or family, especially to separate their feelings and needs from others; one mark of a healthy family or group is its capacity to allow members to be different (have feelings, change, do things alone), while still knowing that they are “members in good standing”; families and groups who can’t differentiate are frequently disengaged (uncaring, uninvolved with each other) or enmeshed (over-involved, with poor boundaries between members’ feelings and needs).
Difficult patient – judgmental label by professionals about clients who are not easy, who don’t agree with something in the intervention, who complain or don’t pay attention; Jourard believes that difficult patients are there to remind us to be real (not a role) and to listen for the real person inside the client.
Discipline – training people or children to follow a code of behavior, usually to avoid harm and become contributing members of the community/society; ideally, discipline corrects negative behaviors and strengthens positive ones; used as both a verb (to discipline) or a noun for the general process of disciplining (“the child received no discipline”); old fashioned discipline approaches favored punishment, especially spanking, to correct improper behavior, but current approaches advocated by child specialists emphasize modeling, shaping and encouraging positive behavior while using negative reinforcement (withdrawal of rewards or attention) to correct misbehavior, along with constant discussion to build social thinking and understanding.
Disclosure – openly sharing information with clients and potential clients about actual and potential sources of conflict of interest in handling their case; records of this are essential.
Disconfirmation interruptions – interruptions that seek to minimize the importance of the speaker’s statements and interruptions made with the goal of changing the subject.
Discrimination – unjustifiable negative behavior or unfair treatment toward a group or its members.
Dismissing attachment – a positive mental model of self and negative mental model of other; a person with a dismissing approach to attachment prefers independence and being self –sufficient more than being in close relationships.
Dispiriting – what happens to our spirits after negative experiences and/or interactions that are limiting; feeling hopelessness, lowered self-esteem and loneliness after an encounter or event.
Distributive justice – a quality of decision-making and legal processes concerned with the proper allocation of things, wealth, power, rewards, debts and burdens, among citizens and members of groups.
Diversity / cultural diversity – when a society or organization allows different cultures and cultural subgroups to exist without undue prejudice or pressure to conform; having many differences of ethnicity, age, gender, and ability.
Division of labor – the division of work tasks in a society between women and men, old and young, or according to class, regardless of ability, knowledge or experience; within the family, refers to the allocation of work tasks between the husband and wife, though it can also refer to division among family or group members; often tasks are proscribed according to gender roles (‘women’s work’ and ‘men’s work’).
Divorce therapy – couple therapy whose goal is to help partners cope with the stresses and strains of the divorce process in a friendly, non-confrontational way; nonadversarial counseling which minimizes harm to children of the couple.
Do no harm – one of the principal medical ethics which reminds medical and other professionals that they must consider the possible harm that any intervention might cause.
Domestic / Family violence – a pattern of abusive behaviors against any family member or companion, including children and the elderly; has many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation
Dominance Theory / Social Dominance Theory – (Sidanius & Pratto) theory which asserts that humans are predisposed by our evolutionary histories to accept and even favor myths, scripts and social roles based on hierarchies of access to power and resources (especially gender, class and cultural hierarchies); this is generally accepted as explaining social behaviors such as prejudice and bullying.
Dominant culture – a culture that is able, through economic or political power, to impose its values, language, and ways of behaving on a subordinate culture or cultures. This may be achieved through legal or political suppression of other sets of values and patterns of behavior, or by monopolizing the media of communication.
Dominant norms – the beliefs, values and expectations of the dominant group or culture about right and wrong, and how people should look and act.
Domination / Dominance – having and using control or power over another or others so that they serve the dominator’s needs and desires; top-down dynamics of an authoritarian power hierarchy.
Drug – any substance that, when absorbed into the body alters normal bodily function; Psychoactive or recreational drugs are chemical substances that affect the central nervous system, such as opioids, hallucinogens, tobacco, caffeine and alcohol; aggression research is primarily concerned with psychoactive drugs that disinhibit our normal checks on aggression, such as alcohol, caffeine and methamphetamines.
Drug abuse – using illegal and legal drugs (including pharmaceuticals and alcohol) to the point of regularly causing physical and/or psychological harm to oneself and loved ones.
Dual Relationship – a type of conflict of interest in which the professional intervener holds more than one relationship with the client (or a member of a client group), usually a preexisting personal (or conflicting professional) relationship which may cause difficulty in making objective judgments and providing professional services; this concept also applies when a professional pursues a personal or sexual relationship with a client (most codes of ethics say 3-12 months post-services must pass before such lines should be crossed).
Dualism / Duality – simplistic way to perceive and understand the world as being divided into two exclusive categories, usually ‘good’ and ‘bad’, though many dualistic frameworks are common (male-female, mind-matter, white-nonwhite, human-nonhuman, life-death, rich-poor); Dualism refers more to the habit or process while duality tends to mean the reality we see as so divided; see comparison to Yin – Yang.
Due Process – the right to access to a fair procedure for applying the law when an individual or group is charged with wrongdoing; legal procedures which guarantee that the rights of the accused are protected; this generally is thought to include a clear explanation of the charges against an individual, the right to face their accuser, the right to an attorney, the right to a hearing in which they get to speak, and the right to an impartial judge.
Duty to Protect – a legal concept for the expectation that professionals (and citizens) should protect potential victims of a violent person (as in Duty to Warn), and to protect children from neglect and abuse; includes protecting clients from themselves when they are self-destructive with suicide precautions and involuntary hospitalization, or prohibiting them from driving under the influence of substances.
Duty to Warn – a legal concept for the expectation that professionals (and citizens) should warn others of hazards or threats to their welfare, or be held partly responsible for their losses. If someone states a clear intention to harm another and identifies someone as their intended victim, the professional must inform that victim and/or legal authorities in their community (including in writing) that they are in imminent danger; must have clear evidence before violating confidentiality.
Dysfunctional family – one in which adult caregivers are unable to consistently fulfill their family responsibilities.
Dysfunctional leadership – a leadership approach that is ineffective, either through negligence or lack of skills; these leaders do not abuse employees or enrich themselves, but still cause harm to their groups/organizations by wasting energy and resources.
Dysfunctions – what we do that disturbs society & cause harm
Ecological Systems Theory – Urie Bronfenbrenner’s theory that human development reflects the influence of five layers of interconnected environmental systems, including Microsystems (immediate & direct), Mesosystems (general & direct), Exosystems (general indirect), Macrosystems (cultural), and Chronosystems (time).
Editing – the term for when someone monitors relationship interactions and chooses to respond positively (or neutrally) after accurately perceiving another’s behavior to be negative in order to in order to stop negative reciprocity and spiraling; also called repair attempts; similar to the process of accommodation but refers to specific reactions in the moment.
Egalitarian – authority more or less equally divided between people or groups (in marriage, for example, between husband and wife); upholding the ideal of the equality of humankind and the goal of political, social, and economic equality.
Emotional / Psychological violence and abuse – the intentional use of words, gestures or behaviors to cause another harm or deprive them of their needs.
Emotional arousal / Dysregulation – emotional responses that are uncontrolled, and are over-reactions to present situations (e.g., rage over a broken plate, hysterics over a missed assignment); a relative inability to tolerate painful feelings (affect intolerance) and/or an inability to internally reduce distress; emotional arousal refers more to responses to individual situations while dysregulation refers more to an overall pattern of overreacting.
Emotional distress – psychological pain suffered as the result of a physical or emotional trauma; may cause withdrawal, substance abuse or other symptoms (depression, insomnia) which disrupt personal or social functioning.
Emotions – physical responses, including arousal, experience and expression that are short lived, intense, have a salient cause and clear cognitive content.
Empathic accuracy – the ability to accurately decode the feelings behind another’s behavior or words, and be more likely to discern the underlying meaning.
Empathic listening – being silent, attentive and receptive in order to hear and understand what another is experiencing through the words they speak; this is not easy, so models (such as Gordon’s Active Listening) exist for teaching the skills needed to accomplish this; conveys respect and caring.
Empathy – the capacity to recognize and comprehend feelings and perceptions that are being experienced by another person, child or animal; awareness, understanding and compassion; people who consistently lack empathy tend to have antisocial personality disorder.
Empowerment – to give or enable someone to have control and choice over their own lives and affairs; a style of intervention in which the professional does not play the expert role (who always knows better), but teaches the client how to manage their own lives in any area requested.
Enantiodromia – a principle introduced by psychiatrist Carl Jung that the superabundance of any force inevitably produces its opposite, so that any extreme is opposed by the system in order to restore balance; Jung used the term particularly to refer to the unconscious acting against the wishes of the conscious mind.
Enduring vulnerabilities – lacking effective skills or resources for adapting to life’s stressors; may include negative psychological traits (e.g., depression, neuroticism), poor social support, poor coping and social skills.
Enemy – the label used to designate certain people or groups as worthy of hatred, fear or attack because they are believed to be wanting to harm us or competing for resources we desire; the label can be based on imagined or exaggerated behaviors, or on historical events; designating someone as the ‘enemy’ can ultimately lead them to fear us as aggressors, creating an environment ripe for conflict, attack or war (see history of US-Soviet Union relations for an example of this).
Enemy images – negative, dehumanizing or aggressive images or depictions of an individual or group designed by the media and/or political leaders in order to justify attacking them, persecuting them and/or removing them from territory; media descriptions, cartoons and photographs which are slanted to create fear and hatred towards a group and decrease empathy for their suffering.
Environment – the context within which a group, relationship, person or event exists; composed of all things that are external to the group or individual, and it includes everything that may affect the system (physical, social, dynamic, historical), and may be affected by it at any given time.
Environmental causal conditions – factors in a relationship’s physical and social environments that influence an interaction pattern.
Environmental ethics – belief that human societies should live in harmony with the natural world on which they depend for survival and well-being; a feeling of responsibility toward the environment, including plants, animals and future generations of people; concern for the preservation of species, protection of wild things and wild places; ethics that extend the boundaries of our concerns beyond human needs to being concerned for all living systems.
Environmental justice – legal movement to provide equal environmental rights, limits (inability to harvest resources such as trees or ore) and burdens (e.g., exposure to pollution) to people regardless of race or other disadvantaged statuses; also concerned with giving people a voice in what happens to their environment or land and providing amends when natural resources are stolen or destroyed.
Environmental refugees / Migrants – people forced to migrate away from their land due to environmental degradation or other changes to their local environment (e.g., loss of clean water, poisoning by industrial pollution, mining or clearcutting by corporations).
Environmental rights – human rights to access to the unspoiled natural resources that enable survival, including land, shelter, and safe food, water and air; the rights to not have the resources you depend upon stolen or poisoned by pollution.
Equality – an equal share of resources and debts, or recognition and rewards versus criticism and censure; where every member is treated the same regardless of need, advantages or contribution; an equally divided proportion.
Equality Rule of Exchange – both partners’ goodness of outcomes are expected to be equal.
Equitable relationship – a relationship in which the ratio of one partner’s outcomes (reward or benefits) to inputs (costs and investments) is equal to the other partner’s ratio of outcomes to inputs
Equity – a fair apportionment or sharing of resources and debts between group or relationship members; a condition in which rewards are distributed according to both need and the amount of effort and resources contributed, relative to ability; the desire is for equal outcomes, such as happiness, health, opportunity, so social advantages and disadvantages are factored in, along with needs and effort; where all members of a relationship or a group give and take equally (relative equality of the ratio of inputs to outcomes between partners) and share in decisions.
Escalation – to increase a conflict in emotional intensity, magnitude and broadness of scope; usually to turn a disagreement about one specific issue into a long-term conflict over character and compatibility.
Ethic of Care – one of a cluster of ethical theories that were developed by feminists in the late 20th century which emphasizes the importance of caring and compassion; Ethics of Care hold that 1) All individuals are interdependent in achieving their needs and goals; 2) Those particularly vulnerable to our choices and their outcomes deserve extra consideration; 3) It is necessary to safeguard and promote the specific needs and interests of those we are involved with.
Ethics – a system of moral principles that address questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice, etc.; professionals usually develop sets of ethical principles to guide each other on how to avoid trouble or wrong actions; knowing and following ethical principles for your type of work is the best way to avoid lawsuits and complaints against your professional work.
Ethnocentrism – judging other cultures by the standards of your own, which you believe to be superior.
Expectations – the beliefs we hold about the probable behavior of other people, and the probable occurrence of other future events, that guide and direct social behavior.
Expert power – (French & Raven, 1960) rests on the belief that an individual has a particularly high level of specialized knowledge and/or skills.
Exploitation – using another person or group for selfish purposes; treating someone as a thing or cruelly; taking unfair advantage of persons, their characteristics, or their situations
Expressive communication – the ability to convey information, feelings or messages clearly, so that the words are understandable and the meaning is relatively clear to the average person.
Expressive leader – an individual who increases harmony and minimizes conflict in a group; often seen as an opposing or alternative style compared to instrumental; focus less on goals and more on personal interaction, using emotional appeals and high ideals to win people over rather than directing; also known as a socioemotional leader
Expressive motor responses – automatic physical reactions that occur in conjunction with certain feelings, mainly seen in the face, such as with angry faces.
Expressive skills – skillful ways of voicing thoughts and feelings; specific requests about needs; not over-generalized (“you always”); constructive; part of couple communication training.
External locus of control – the perception that chance or outside forces beyond one’s personal control determine one’s fate.
Externalizing behaviors – when someone takes out their troubles externally, on other people, animals or things; in the past, therapists avoided labeling children and teens by using the value-free labels of externalizing and internalizing (troubles directed at self) in order to prevent the negative effects of labeling.
Extraversion – a personality characteristic reflecting the degree to which an individual is oriented positively to the social environment and enjoys being the center of social attention
Extraversion-introversion – a personality dimension characterized by a positive vs. negative orientation toward being the object of social attention; one of the “Big Five” personality factors believed to principally underlie individual differences in personality.
Face-saving behavior – excuses or techniques used to salvage a performance (interaction) that is going wrong
Facilitating insight – when a client has a new awareness that leads to understanding and/or change of nonproductive behaviors; an “aha” moment leading to win-win thinking.
Facilitative relationship skills – Erbe’s term for an effective mediator’s ideal interpersonal skills; includes ability to be fair, earn trust, reframe, empower, be consistently sensitive to clients, consider their values, expectations and preferences, engage their willingness and cooperation to work, and stay flexible; similar to Working Alliance.
Fairness – free from bias or tendency to benefit either side in a dispute or any circumstance; objective weighing of issues in a case; impartiality.
Family – a group of people who form a household, including parents, children, other relatives and adopted members; Extended families include all of those who are involved in the day to day support of family needs and are involved in each other’s lives, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, half or step-family members and sometimes neighbors.
Family climate – the overall feeling tone within a family; reflects level of energy, comfort and ease of being oneself; often described in terms of two dimensions – tension/relaxation and negative/positive.
Family crisis – an emotionally stressful, unstable and/or traumatic time for a family when previous coping skills are not enough for a family to overcome stressors they face and so structural change is needed.
Family functioning – the degree to which the family group is able to provide physical survival and health needs, mental health and competency needs and social support and skills needed for the healthy individual functioning of its members; family functioning primarily is determined by the parental figures in nurturing and caring for children, but whatever the ages of family members, the family system must adjust to developmental capacities through many stages of life, from infancy to old age.
Family health – the general condition of a family’s wellbeing, including physical and mental health factors of individuals in the family and all-over family functioning and climate; also includes stress/stressors, attachment/bonding, conflicts, control/boundarying and support.
Family preservation – a comprehensive approach to treating family violence that provides many services to help high-risk families avoid the need for removal of the child for protection; includes intensive social casework, family therapy, parent training, and other services (such as day care, or nutrition services).
Family rules – words and messages which shape, prescribe and limit family members’ behavior over time; they are repeated and rarely written down; they give power, induce guilt, and control or limit behaviors; i.e., “Don’t talk about it”, “Be responsible”, “Perfection is expected”, “You’ll never do it well enough”.
Family Systems Theory – a body of theories that use systems concepts and processes to explain family functioning and how families get into trouble.
Family Systems Therapy – a form of family psychotherapy that works with the systemic roots of an individual’s problems, or directly targets family dysfunction and climate issues.
Family / Domestic violence – physical violence, child abuse, threatening verbal behavior and endangerment that occurs within the family unit; the major types include domestic violence, child abuse, and elder abuse.
Family-work dichotomy – the struggle to balance the needs and demands of family (children, life-partner, family of origin) against the needs and demands of work/career.
Fear – a sense of anxiety, dread or uneasiness due to the perception of danger, imminent disaster or simply the unknown; fear can be conscious and based on real, exaggerated or imagined events, or it can be unconscious and based on past traumas and/or conditioned habits.
Fear of authority – an overt social anxiety in the presence of people in powerful roles; also refers to an extremely common fear of displeasing to authority figures or people wearing uniforms (leading to unconscious deference and obedience), despite one’s wishes and values, and regardless of the apparent wrongness of following their demands.
Fearful / Anxious attachment – negative mental model of self and other; a person who is fearful about attachment is uncomfortable being close to others, distrusts others, and fears rejection and being hurt by others.
Feedback – information which is exchanged between people in an interaction in groups or relationships; feedback is a response which gives some indication of the impact of the other’s words or actions, thus allowing for correction or adjustment.
Feedback (systems) – information which is exchanged between members of a system or between a system and its environment; in systems theory, negative feedback is that which tries to restore homeostasis (renamed stability feedback in IST) while positive feedback tries to create structural change and a new order (renamed change feedback in IST).
Feedback loop – when a message is sent from one member of a system or relationship to another and back (or to the environment and back); there is usually a response or modification and that changed information is sent back; when Information is sent and received both ways; completed communication circuits .
Feeling – the conscious, subjective experience of an emotion through the physical sensations experienced or perceptions of what is happening internally; characterized by psychophysiological expressions, biological reactions, and mental states that function together; the six core emotions found in research are anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise.
Fees – financial reward or compensation for services rendered or to be rendered; especially, fixed charge for professional services.
Fellowship – a group or association of people who share common interests, values and goals, and treat each other as friends; a church or spiritual congregation who share traditions and social support with each other.
Feminine sex-role orientation – a self-presentation and inner belief system which includes traits stereotypically associated with femaleness and socially valued for females to possess (nurturance, compassion, warmth).
Feminine societies – communities where people (whether male or female) value relationships and quality of life; societies where men and women alike are expected to be community focused and caring towards others.
Femininity – a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women; in Western cultures, the traditional ideal of femininity means to be caring, nurturing, sexually passive and skilled in childcare and housekeeping, while the ideal feminine appearance has traditionally included long hair, a narrow waist, and little or no body hair or facial hair.
Feminist Ethics – a challenge to change traditional thinking in the ways that it depreciates or devalues women’s actions, beliefs or physical bodies.
Field Theory – Kurt Lewin’s (1948) theory that one’s behavior is determined by their immediate perceptions of their life space (field) in relation to themselves.
Fight-or-Flight Reaction – a syndrome of physiological responses to an environmental threat, originally identified by physiologist Walter Cannon; emergency reaction that mobilizes the body’s energy resources to help the individual defend against the threat by attacking it or fleeing.
Financial arrangements – expectations about what will be exchanged in a professional interaction; the implicit and/or explicit contract of what the professional will provide (services, time, resources) and what the client will pay for them and the ratio of those exchanges and terms for payment; hidden charges or unspoken expectations sometimes complicate these arrangements or create conflict.
Financial exploitation – taking advantage of the trust and/or admiration of clients, dependent family members or subordinates by overcharging them for services, undervaluing their assets, stealing from them or otherwise over-benefitting oneself.
Financial irregularity – the misstatement, rearranging of, and/or omission of significant information in accounting records, financial statements, other reports, documents or records.
First order change – superficial change that is directed at restoring the system to homeostasis with the least possible disruption.
Flow – the movement of energy and information within a system, between systems, or between a system and its environment; flow is a measure of the health of in a system or group of systems; interpersonal flow contains 4 dynamics – control, support, change feedback and stability feedback.
Forgiveness – (Ken Pargament) a process of emotional and evaluative changes toward a person (or a group) who has committed harm (or is perceived as committing an injustice) that includes the overcoming of negative affect (anger, hostility), negative cognitions (hate, thoughts of revenge), and negative behaviors (aggression, gossip) along with acceptance and restoration of goodwill; there is some debate whether full forgiveness is possible without some degree of restorative justice and/or the admission of wrongdoing.
Forgiveness – the pardoning of a transgression; a process in which a person overcomes negative affect (anger, hostility), negative cognitions (hate, thoughts of revenge), and negative behaviors (aggression, gossip) in response to an offender’s injustice.
Formal – using a specific professional or governmental process or set of procedures that provides legal protections and records to the participants.
Framing – the way an issue is posed; how an issue is framed can significantly affect decisions and judgments.
Fraud – an array of irregularities and illegal acts characterized by intentional deception.
Friendship / Friend relationship – an attachment to another by feelings of trust, affection or personal regard; people who give assistance and support to each other regardless of kinship.
Frustration – an aversive emotional reaction to the prevention of a desired event.
Fundamental attribution error – the tendency to over-value dispositional (personality-based) explanations for the behaviors of others while discounting situational explanations for their behaviors; also called the actor–observer bias; this leads us to blame others for their mistakes while the self-serving bias allows us to hold ourselves blameless.
Gender bias / Sexism – the belief or attitude that one gender (usually female) is inferior to, less competent, or less valuable than the other; can also refer to hatred of either sex as a whole (misogyny or misandry), or the application of stereotypes of masculinity to men, or of femininity to women; Cutting across all systems of stratification, gender divisions universally favor males over females
General Systems Theory – the original meta-theory behind systems theory, as first conceived by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, that states that all living things, parts of living things and groups of living things have certain common properties, patterns and dynamics.
Generous attributions – explaining someone else’s behavior in a way that is charitable, caring, unselfish and considers their welfare; not being petty or critical of others’ flaws and mistakes.
Global governance – (Galtung) democratizing the United Nations through direct elections to a People’s Assembly and abolition of the veto power.
Global labels – labels are words used to describe and categorize phenomena; when they are global labels of a person, they imply that the person is never otherwise, so they are limited to the characteristics described.
Global marital satisfaction – a subjective evaluation of one’s overall experiences and feelings about the quality of their marital relationship.
Glop – shared variation between measures of variables; in relationship research there are high correlations between many individual and relationship factors.
Goals – achievements or end states that are desired, committed to, planned and worked towards by an individual or a group; long-term goals are end states desired for the future, that direct behavior far in advance of any rewards; three types of goals in marital research include 1. approach goals as desires that one moves towards, 2. avoidance or defensive goals as what one hopes to prevent, and 3. combination goals which include both approach and avoidance desires.
Goals and Interests – the objectives, needs or desires of people that may lead to a conflict with others; goals are more acknowledged and usually can be put into words; needs are the essential bottom line concern to try to address and find compromises for in relationships.
Goal-setting – the process of deciding on long-term goals, values and priorities to shape one’s life course.
Gratitude – a positive emotional state that results from the positive assessment of someone or something (e.g., a conditions, action or state of being) along with expressing appreciation, whether verbally, attitudinally and/or through behavior (e.g., leaving a good tip, cleaning the kitchen).
Grief –mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
Grievance – a complaint against a professional person or group who commits a breach of ethical or fair practice which causes distress, damage or difficulty and therefore is believed to provide grounds for professional censure.
Ground rules – a set of procedures and guidelines for managing aspects of an interaction; especially needed when safety, aggression or power differences are a concern; ground rules establish what is allowed or not allowed during an interaction or event and usually help increase the likelihood of all parties being able to express themselves safely and feel comfortable that a compromise will be workable for them.
Group attribution bias – the tendency to over-value dispositional explanations for the behaviors of out groups while discounting situational explanations for their behaviors.
Group dynamics – the patterns of behaviors and interpersonal processes occurring within groups, including the ways in which individuals affect groups and the ways in which groups affect individuals; addresses what happens within a social group (intragroup dynamics), or between social groups (intergroup dynamics)
Group/relationship dynamics – the forces that flow within and between groups and relationships, therefore shaping their character; including power/control, support, change feedback and feedback to stabilize (keep things the same); balance of these dynamics is necessary for health, imbalances (of power, support, etc.) tend to be destructive to relationships and groups.
Group-serving bias – the group form of the self-serving bias, group members making dispositional attributions for their group’s successes and situational attributions for group failures, and vice versa for outgroups; includes the group attribution error (group version of fundamental attribution error) and the in-group bias.
Groupthink – (Irving Janis) the mode of thinking that occurs when the desire for harmony in a group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives for solving problems; a narrowing of thought by a group, leading to the perception that there is only one correct answer, in which to even suggest alternatives becomes a sign of disloyalty; to agree without critically analyzing, and evaluating ideas.
Guilt – painful thoughts and/or feelings of remorse for real or imagined wrongdoing; feeling the weight of responsibility for a past error; a relational/social emotion.
Halo Effect – a cognitive bias where one positive trait (being good-looking, going to church) makes us believe other qualities of the person are equally good; this often biases one’s decisions in favor of this ‘good’ person.
Happiness – a general feeling of well-being that includes inner process, positive attitudes, and a way of living your life and relating to those around you; happiness can be deeper and more long-lasting when it involves both doing things that are gratifying and having an inner sense that life is good.
Hate – intense aversion and/or hostility towards someone or something; despise and treat with contempt, and possibly violence.
Hazing – an abusive and humiliating initiation ritual or set of activities used for some exclusive groups such as fraternities, gangs, athletic teams and military units.
Healing relationships – relationships which are healthy and also strong enough to use restorative skills (accommodation, forgiveness) to deal with problems so that love endures despite difficulties and everyone’s hurts have a chance to heal.
Health – an assessment of the general physical and/or psychological condition of someone (or some group); generally physical and mental health covary together and appear to affect each other through a number of mechanisms (pain, stress, self-care) although both can be impacted by external factors (social support, resources, environmental conditions).
Healthy paranoia – the mistrust of members of the dominant culture by members of minority cultural groups; in a mild form, this is healthy and adaptive and provides minority culture members the time to evaluate the people and situation more closely, and to consider their options and the consequences of going along.
Healthy relationships – relationships that maintain and/or promote each partner’s immediate and future survival and welfare.
Hegemony – the use of power against others by controlling the meta or master narrative; whose story gets told.
Helpers – people who can and do intervene in times of troubles; also strong relationships or rewarding jobs that serve as strong motivators to do the right thing; also includes external factors such as rescue personnel, law and higher authority.
History / Behavioral history – significant actions over one’s life course relative to an area of concern, focusing on where predictive relationships have been shown between early variables and later behavior (such as academic achievement predicting adult income level, history of violence predicting later violence, or childhood victimization predicting adult perpetration and victimization).
Holism – A non-reductionist descriptive and investigative strategy for understanding or investigating whole systems.
Home Visitation for At-Risk Mothers – an approach for reducing child abuse and neglect through home visitation by nurses (e.g., through the Nurse-Family Partnership) focusing on parenting skills for low-income women at risk for family violence.
Homeostasis – the maintenance of equilibrium in bodily processes that has been used to refer to the desire to maintain the status quo in relationship systems; habitual state of balance; in family systems theory, families seek to maintain their customary organization and functioning over time and tend to resist change; concept proposed by Walter Cannon (1932).
Homophily – similarity of individuals in a group, or of their behavior, often occurs when peers or group members are drawn to engage in the same behaviors (dress, smoking, sexuality).
Homophobia – unreasoning fear of or hostility toward homosexuals and homosexuality. Many homosexuals report taking on their culture’s homophobic fears and hatred, and these feelings are considered partly to blame for high suicide rates among gay youth.
Homosexuality – sexual desire or behavior directed toward a person or persons of one’s own sex (gay, lesbian); Erroneously believed to be a mental disorder before policies began to be changed in the 1960’s to reflect research instead of religious beliefs.
Honesty – the quality of being truthful and sincere; freedom from deceit or hidden motives.
Hostile / Impulsive / Reactive aggression – impulsive, unplanned, anger-driven actions committed with the intention of causing harm, often as a reaction to some perceived provocation.
Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment – pervasive sex-related verbal conduct that is a) unwelcome and b) demeaning or offensive.
Hostile thoughts – primitive ideas and logic which prime aggression and make it seem a more reasonable response to events; general paranoid thinking that assumes intentional wrongdoing and hurt, such as “___ is doing me wrong”, and “___ is purposefully being hateful to hurt me”.
Human rights – (Amnesty International) the basic rights and freedoms that all people are entitled to regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, language, or other status.
Humanism – a philosophical approach concerned with human welfare and dignity.
Identified patient (IP) – the family member with a pathology or symptom that has brought the family into treatment; the concept of the IP is used by family therapists to keep the family from negatively labeling the IP as a way of avoiding problems in the rest of the system.
Idiot compassion – when we try to avoid conflict and protect our good image by being kind when we should say “no.” (such as when we are in an abusive relationship and need to set clear boundaries); in the name of compassion or love, we let people walk all over us, when real compassion means to work to stop abuse and draw the line (Pema Chodron).
I-message – a statement about the feelings, beliefs, values etc. of the person speaking, generally expressed as a sentence beginning with the word “I”; contrasted with a “you-message”, which often begins with the word “you” and focuses on the person spoken to.
Impaired attachment – any style of attachment that is not secure (e.g., insecure, avoidant or anxious attachment), whether from early development, or after traumatic attachment injury causes them to become regressed.
Impartiality – means fair and unbiased actions towards both sides in a conflict through being aware of biases and working to keep them in check; working with both sides to bring them into dialogue about what they can do to improve the situation; being an advocate for finding common ground and creating peace and justice for all involved.
Impeccable – done with high quality, skill and attention to detail; expertly done with nothing lacking.
Impulse control – the ability to manage one’s primitive urges (to hit, to steal, to spend money) by using one’s higher order thinking to consider the consequences of doing so; those with Attention Deficit Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder usually have problems with impulse control, and there is a whole class of Impulse Control Disorders, including kleptomania and pathological gambling.
Impulsivity – the tendency to act on one’s urges without thinking; impulsivity makes getting along with others difficult as it does not allow time for considering the needs and feelings of others (empathy).
Incentives – physical rewards (money), social rewards (power) or other desired ends (vacations, fame, sex) that motivate behavior.
Incomplete rejection – saying no to intimacy (sex or discussion) by postponing it until some conditions is met.
Incremental theory of marriage and marital happiness – a mental framework that sees relationships as always changing, with mistakes and setbacks as normal occurrences that can be used for learning and strengthening; offers an alternative view of relationships from the fixed, dualistic view (relationships are either all good or all bad).
Individualism – believing foremost in individual rights, independent action and satisfaction of individual needs rather than the common good.
Individualistic cultures – cultures in which individuals view themselves as autonomous and oriented toward independent success and achievement
Induction – explaining the consequences of actions and suggesting solutions to interpersonal dilemmas.
Inequity – relative imbalance of inputs and outcomes between members of a group or relationship.
Informal – a quality of interaction or message that is personal, friendly and private (off the record); an informal complaint or grievance is one that is brought privately to someone attention and it is left to them to take corrective action, though this may be a first step that is followed by various levels of formal complaint procedures.
Information gathering skills – an important skillset for mediators and peacebuilders is the ability to work like a detective, gathering information relevant to the conflict or difficulties; this includes history/background of the parties and the environment, party power, conflict styles, violence history and potential, and whether all of this makes mediation likely to be appropriate.
Information sharing / Freedom of information – one aspect of power and control in relationships is the availability of information that affects everyone concerned; for example, freedom of the press, internet access and public libraries are key to the healthy functioning of democracy.
Informed Consent – ethical rule that professionals must inform potential clients about the nature of working together, likelihood of successful outcomes and possible negative consequences; informed consent may include a list of common or expected ground rules and the expectation that more ground rules can be negotiated; best done in writing and signed by professional and client(s).
Infrastructure (Social, Group or Relationship) – the patterns that shape and limit interactions in a relationship or group, usually determined by power/control dynamics, rules, and roles assigned to each member.
Ingratiation – pretending to like someone in order to induce them to like us, therefore getting the rewards of their friendship and avoiding the costs of not being in their favored group.
In-group – “us”, people with whom one shares a common identity; social groups in which members feel a sense of identification and loyalty, and are biased in their behalf.
In-group bias – the preferential perception and/or treatment people give to those whom they perceive to be members of their own groups; the tendency to favor one’s own group; considered a group-serving bias.
Insecure attachment – basic insecurity (mistrust, discomfort) in intimacy and relationships, seen as resulting from lack of security and contact in parent-infant; includes resistant attachment, avoidant attachment & disorganized attachment.
Insider / Partial mediation – mediation that is done by a person who is already involved in the conflict situation (an insider) and to some extent is aligned with one side (partial), as opposed to a neutral outsider; insider partials know the situation better, are more easily trusted, and will stick around to make sure any settlement is implemented, unlike outsider neutrals, who usually leave to go home or go on to their next case.
Inspiriting – what happens when experiences and/or interactions bring real contact, hope and a sense of purpose and worth to people.
Institutional racism – racial discrimination by government entities, corporations, religious groups, educational institutions or other large organizations that use their power to influence the lives of many individuals according to implicit racially based beliefs (also known as structural racism or systemic racism).
Instrumental aggression – premeditated harmful action done with the intention of obtaining some goal (money, jewelry) other than harm.
Integrative negotiation – incorporates the needs and desires of both partners through compromise and collaboration.
Integrity – adherence to moral and ethical principles; honesty and soundness of moral character; being unimpaired – not having conflicts of interests or weaknesses (drinking, drugging, legal troubles).
Intention – the mental purpose or goal of a person; the reasoning behind someone’s actions; often reflects a wish for positive or negative results for one or more of the people involved.
Interaction – an influence episode in which one partner’s behavior affects how the other partner subsequently behaves and vice versa; the living flow of a relationship; it is important to note whether each partner’s interactions interfere with or facilitate the needs or goals of the other partner.
Interaction script – each partners’ expectations about how a certain class of interaction will proceed, including roles that each will play and actions and communications that fit with their predetermined roles.
Interaction style – the ongoing pattern of communication, influence and exchange that goes on in a relationship over time, includes cognition, affect, level of social support, and conflict (does not refer to Myers-Briggs score pairs); generally, styles are reported to be primarily positive or negative; an important dynamic process to evaluate as opposed to static descriptions.
Interdependence – the extent to which people and/or other living things (nature, ecosystems) are connected in a give and take relationship with each other; especially the extent to which two (or more) people work together to mutually take care of each other’s needs; reflects their degree of mutual connection and influence.
Intergenerational cycle of violence – violent behavior that is passed from parent to child; the tendency for families and communities to teach and model violent ways of thinking and acting that are passed down to future generations.
Interpersonal climate – the overall feeling tone within a relationship or group; reflects level of energy, comfort and ease of being oneself in the relationship; often described in terms of two dimensions – tension/relaxation and negative/positive.
Interpersonal peace – a state of being with others that works harmoniously and without undue harm, which provides the enjoyment of healthy relationships, safety, access to needs, equality and fairness in power and control, and the absence of hostility and oppression in everyday relationship contexts, such as family and marital relationships, friendships, and interactions with schoolmates and coworkers.
Interpersonal peacemaking – traditional peacemaking (conflict resolution and transformation), violence prevention and peace education work that are focused on everyday relationship contexts, such as family and marital difficulties, and harmful conflicts between friends, schoolmates and coworkers; part of sustainable peacemaking / peacebuilding.
Interpersonal process – (Irvin Yalom, 1995) how people exchange information and influence each other in groups and relationships; what happens between people verbally and nonverbally.
Interpersonal skills – skills which make for effective interactions with others, whether personal or professional in nature; includes clear and constructive communication skills, respect, listening skills (e.g. strong listening), openness to others, empathic skills, resisting inappropriate social pressure, preventing, managing, and resolving conflict, seeking help when needed and overall compassion (capacity for understanding and caring about all sides); social skills; a component of Social Emotional Learning (CASEL).
Interpersonal systems – a broad term for all forms of human relationships, where 2 or more people engage with and influence each other; includes romantic couples, families, friends, small and large groups, organizations, communities, states and nations.
Interpersonal Systems Theory (IST, Connors) – the theory that all forms of relationships between people have systemic properties and processes, including that they behave as wholes, are interconnected, change constantly and exchange energy.
Intimate terrorism – a situation in which one individual is violent and controlling in a relationship while their partner is neither, becoming a victim to abuse and injury.
Intractable conflicts – disputes that are impossible to resolve, that stubbornly seem to resist resolution, even when the best available techniques are applied; often are of long duration, deep-rooted, gridlocked, complex and extremely difficult.
Introversion – a personality characteristic reflecting the degree to which one is oriented inward (to their own mental life) and enjoys solitary activities more than social ones. Introverts tend to be more reserved (shy) and less assertive in social situations.
Judgmental words – words that convey a negative moral or personal value towards someone or something; words which express criticism or imply wrongness.
Just War Theory – a philosophy concerned with justifying war and the forms that warfare may or may not take (landmines, chemical weapons, robotic bombings…); belief that some wars are ‘just’ or good wars because they allegedly punish ‘bad’ political movements or governments.
Justice – an ideal which represents ultimate fairness in the distribution of benefits, burdens, judgments and punishments; a quality of legal practice and decision-making in which every person gets what is due to them, including the rights accorded citizens under the law.
Kindness / Humanity – having the qualities of friendliness, generosity, compassion and helpfulness in one’s actions and attitudes; being truly charitable.
Knowledge revolution – a global-scale paradigm shift (that many compare to the agricultural and industrial revolutions) about the fundamental socioeconomic change from valuing the production of things to the valuing of creating and using knowledge which can grow indefinitely; the power of mind will become more important than the power of things.
Laissez-faire leadership – a passive leadership style where the leader allows group members or subordinates to have complete freedom for their own decision-making, without participating or intervening in activities.
Leadership – taking on a role of moral or formal authority to organize a group of people to achieve a common goal; leaders may or may not have traits of charisma, persuasiveness and intelligence; they may be empowered by a strong sense of mission and values; leadership styles vary from authoritarian, to participatory, to toxic/narcissistic, to transformative.
Learning attitude – an outlook which sees life as an educational process and strives to understand why things happen the way they do so that future actions can have better results.
Learning organization / community – group culture that values knowledge and creative change to cope with the demands of a changing environment; a culture that encourages and supports continuous member learning, critical thinking, and risk taking with new ideas; they also expect and learn from mistakes, value member input, and share new knowledge for incorporation into day-to-day activities.
Legitimacy – the consent of a people to let themselves be governed by a political system.
Legitimate power – (French & Raven, 1960) power based primarily on the leader’s title or position in the organizational hierarchy; although employees may comply based on legitimate power, they may not feel a sense of commitment or cooperation.
Lenses – a metaphor for perspectives on life; the ability to see a person or situation from different perspectives; generally includes the individual or immediate point of view, relationship perspectives, community perspectives, ecological perspectives and historical perspectives.
Limit setting – establishing boundaries for acceptable and/or safe behaviors for another; involves teaching, modeling what’s right and consistent enforcement of consequences for violations.
Linkages – known connections between factors related to each other; for example, different types of violence are correlated, such as childhood neglect, childhood abuse, spousal abuse, suicide, drug abuse, sexual violence, and poverty; when problems are interrelated, it makes sense for agencies in these areas to work together.
Listening skills – practices that improve the receptive aspect of communication, decrease defensive reactivity and promote understanding of the other’s words and actions; includes paraphrasing (to ensure understanding), reflecting and validation; part of Communication Training.
Living systems – a system is considered living when it has open, semi-permeable boundaries which allow the flow of energy and information to sustain the life force in it (dead systems include machines, computers, rocks, etc.).
Loaded terms – words which have a negative connotation because of the historical, personal or social meanings associated with them.
Locus of control – a personality dimension that concerns beliefs about one’s efficacy as a causal agent and responsibility for one’s own life outcomes
Love – any of a number of emotions related to a sense of strong affection and emotional bonding; a deep feeling of tenderly caring for another person; love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure (“I love that movie star”) to intense interpersonal attraction (“I love my boyfriend”) to a transcendent spiritual feeling of union with humanity, the common good, and the divine.
Macro-level analysis – an examination of large-scale patterns of society
Malfeasance – wrongdoing or criminal act, as when a bank officer accepts cash gifts from a loan customer; contrasted with misfeasance, the improper performance of a legally permissible act, and nonfeasance , the failure to carry out a contractual obligation.
Marital / relationship satisfaction – the subjective evaluation (positive and/or negative) of one’s feelings about their overall experiences in their marriage or relationship.
Marital / Relationship stability – the strength of a marriage or relationship to continue, to weather the stresses and strains of life together as a couple; a measure of the durability and intactness of the marital or relationship contract, though not necessarily of relationship satisfaction.
Masculine societies – communities where people (whether male or female) value competitiveness, assertiveness, ambition, and the accumulation of wealth and material possessions; a culture in which men are expected to be assertive and focused on economic success, while women should be modest and focused on caring for others.
Masculinity – possessing qualities or characteristics considered by a culture to be typical of / appropriate to a man; not a conscious process, it is perpetuated through social institutions and is enforced and policed through individual interactions; stereotypical masculine qualities in Western society tend to include assertiveness, leadership, independence, physical strength, risk taking, sexual prowess, being the provider for a family and not expressing emotions other than anger.
Mate guarding – a set of responses to relationship threats that can take the form of mate concealment, vigilance, and monopolization of time.
Matriarchy – cultures where women have authority, own property and pass down their names; may also have strong cultural regard for female leaders or a goddess.
Media – means of public communication, including radio, television, newspapers, magazines and internet news sights and webpages that reach or influence people widely.
Megalomania – a manic fixation on one’s own greatness and specialness that often occurs when people have positions of great power, or have great wealth or fame.
Mental health problems – when emotional distress becomes powerful enough that the person is changed by it and their thinking and functioning shifts in a negative direction
Mere Exposure Effect – a process through which people come to like people and stimuli to which they have been previously exposed; repeated exposure enhances attraction under a wide range of conditions.
Meta-analysis – a statistical review technique which combines the results of several studies into the same issue and tries to determine the significance of the variables related to it.
Micro-level analysis – an examination of small-scale patterns of society, individual, relationship or small group interactions
Militarism – the glorification of war and combat; an economic system that is organized around military spending.
Military bullying – the abuse of soldiers by other soldiers; extremely common practice within the military services and this has been found throughout the world; basic training includes physical, verbal and psychological abuse of recruits and violent hazing is common; years of military bullying may also make soldiers more vulnerable to the traumas of war and could play a role in the current plague of soldier and veteran suicides.
Military-industrial complex – the powerful interest group formed by the military and the civilian corporations that supply military services, materials and equipment (weapons, bombs…).
Minority group – people who are differentiated from the social majority based on one or more observable characteristics, (including ethnicity, race, gender, wealth or sexual orientation) and singled out for unequal treatment; categories of persons who hold few positions of social power; popularly mis-associated with a numerical, statistical minority while they may be the majority group.
Modeling – the learning process that occurs naturally from observing a specific behavior as performed by another and then imitating it.
Monitor – watch over with concern, especially looking for possible trouble (as in monitoring children); monitoring is nonjudgmental, not expecting to find misbehavior, but willing to address it if it occurs; checking out for a purpose.
Mood – relatively low – intensity, diffuse, and enduring affective states that have no salient antecedent cause and little cognitive content.
Multicomponent treatment – a combination of treatment methods used with serious mental illness and family violence; often includes home visitation and parent training.
Mutual morality – the consideration of the needs and rights of all living things.
Mutual violent control – a situation in which all members of a group/family or both partners in a relationship are violent and controlling to each other.
Myopia – a condition in which the range of behaviors deemed appropriate in a given situation is narrowed; narrow-mindedness; intolerance.
Narcissism – Overly concerned with self-image &/or ego gratification; higher levels of narcissism can cause many problems, including difficulty with relationships, career instability, abuse of others under your authority and drug &/or alcohol abuse.
Nationalism – a strong sense of identification with one’s nation, such that other nations are seen as lesser; nationalism, and especially ultranationalism, can be divisive and cause conflict because any nation or person who does not have exclusive alliance with its goals may be pressured or attacked.
Natural environment – all living and nonliving things that exist naturally on the Earth (without or in spite of human influence), including animals, plant life, microorganisms, soil, rocks, air, water, and climate, as well as natural systems (ecosystems) of these elements which interact and support each other.
Need – something that is necessary for physical or emotional health, survival and human functioning; there are levels of needs ranging from physical survival to emotional to psychological to spiritual/deeper meaning.
Need for power / Power motive – a personal motive that reflects that need to have impact on others; a general concern for 1) having an impact on others, 2) arousing strong emotions in others, and 3) maintaining a reputation and a sense of prestige; may be expressed in a number of ways, including direct efforts to forcefully control others and indirect attempts to influence, charm, persuade, or even help others.
Need to belong – believed to be a fundamental human motivation for interpersonal attachment that is manifested in a drive to form and maintain a minimum number of lasting, positive, and significant relationships; social hunger; it complements our need to be different.
Negative / Destructive conflict – when competition for needs or a disagreement becomes harmful, violent and/or destructive to relationship bonds or individuals; often begins with ugly language and blaming due to incompatible goals; may reflect poor internalized relationship schemas modeled by early caregivers.
Negative affect – feelings which are generally unpleasant, agitated (aroused) or extremely aversive; emotions which are associated with distress and beliefs that something is wrong, such as anger, fear, sadness, guilt and feeling stressed.
Negative affect reciprocity – an interaction pattern reliably displayed by couples in unhappy relationships; occurs when one partner’s negative behavior at an earlier point in time (even when the hurt was unintentional) leads to (predicts) the other partner’s later negative emotional behavior (and vice versa); this leads to a downward spiral in relations; these are the result of negative reciprocal causation processes.
Negative attribution style – having a tendency or habit to explain the behavior of others in ways that assume their motives and/or character were faulty; often part of a tendency to blame and find fault with others; promotes negative conflicts.
Negative communication – distressful or harmful episodes of communication and behavior between 2 or more people, especially when blame, negative labels or judgments are asserted; speaking in a way to interfere with the needs, goals and/or positive feelings of another.
Negative conflict – conflict that is harmful because it is emotionally aggressive, punishing, threatening and/or abusive, mainly through ugly or blaming language; sometimes these escalate into rage attacks (via hate and violence) that terrify and damage others involved; repeated negative conflict ultimately destroys relationships.
Negative feedback – seeks to restore homeostasis, pushing for 1st order change (superficial).
Negative interactions – unpleasant or distressful episodes of communication, cognition and behavior between 2 or more people; a pattern of interfering with the needs, goals and/or positive feelings of each other.
Negative life events – stressful and traumatic occurrences in life that are associated with emotional distress and difficult recovery, whether they come from the environment (drought, financial downturn, war), a relationship (divorce, family illness, violence) or the body (sickness, aging, accidental trauma).
Negative reciprocity – negative reciprocal causation processes in relationships; an interaction pattern reliably displayed by couples in unhappy relationships; occurs when one partner’s negative behavior at an earlier point in time (even when the hurt was unintentional) leads to (predicts) the other partner’s later negative defensive behavior (and vice versa); this often leads to a downward spiral in relationship functioning.
Negative spiraling – the accelerating downhill slide observed in some relationships, likely to be a function of negative attributions, negative reciprocity and defensive goals.
Negative vs. Positive Peace – (King, Galtung) peace can be seen as either the absence of overt violent conflict and oppression (negative peace), or a state where nations (or any groups or relationships) have cooperative and supportive relationship processes at all levels of society (positive peace), which is seen as more sustainable.
Negativity bias – tendency to attend to and remember information which is negative (bad experiences, horrible news…) as opposed to that which is positive; makes relationships difficult.
Negotiation – mutual discussion and bargaining of the terms of a transaction or agreement.
Neighborhood – a distinctive area of houses/apartments and people; neighborhoods often have defining characters, such as income levels, race/ethnicity, crime level, upkeep status (degree of repair of structures, landscaping and trash) and friendliness; one’s neighborhood can be a source of support (friendships, watching out for each other) and/or stress (high crime, noise, pollution, traffic).
Networking – building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships between people for support and sharing of information, resources and opportunities.
Neuroticism – a personality dimension reflecting a person’s sensitivity to negative stimuli, tendency to feel negative emotions (distress), insecurity, and emotional instability – one of the core dimensions of personality, accounting for many forms of mental illness.
Neutrality – a policy or state of not participating in a conflict by abstaining from giving support or resources to either side; refraining from favoring either side in a dispute.
New Masculinity – the movement to reconsider traditional masculinity expectations and values, especially in the ways they cause harm – to men themselves (masculine stress, lower life-spans), women (violence against women, social inequality), boys (bullying) and society at large (glorification of violence, children raised without fathers, hostility between the sexes, promiscuous sex).
Nonadversarial – involving, reacting to, or referring to others as if they were on the same side and working for common goals; working to avoid treating others as enemies or foes.
Nonverbal communication – the process of sending and receiving messages without words, using gestures, body language or posture; facial expressions, eye contact, object communication, as well as through behavior (walking out).
Nonverbal interaction – a complete communication process that is sent and received without words, primarily through gestures, space, or silence.
Nonviolence (interpersonal) – (Galtung) respectful and constructive ways of fighting for a cause, speaking up for needs and defending one’s integrity; peace by peaceful means; (Metta Center) a powerful method to harmonize relationships among people (and all living things) for the establishment of justice and the ultimate well-being of all parties; draws its power from awareness of the profound truth to which the wisdom traditions of all cultures, science, and common experience bear witness – that all life is one.
Nonviolence (social) – a set of strategies and a philosophy of social action that rejects aggression and violence; nonviolent strategies work against oppression by education, communication (e.g., protests, petitions, public art), civil disobedience (noncooperation) and nonviolent direct actions (e.g., sit-ins); nonviolent philosophy promotes the development of compassion for all, including one’s ‘enemy’ (those who oppose you), opposes the death penalty and supports restorative justice (as opposed to punitive justice).
Nonviolent / Constructive / Clean Communication – using thoughtful language and skills so as to convey information, messages and feelings in a way that is not negative, threatening or aggressive; there are several models of nonviolent and constructive communication, including Nonviolent Communication (NVC – Marshall B. Rosenberg), Cooperative Communication (Dennis Rivers), Centered Communication (Carolyn Schrock-Shenk & Ron Kraybill) and Clean Communication (McKay, Matthew, Fanning, Patrick & Paleg, Kim, 2006).
Nonviolent Communication (Rosenberg’s NVC) – communication process for resolving conflicts developed by Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s; NVC focuses on three aspects of communication – self-empathy (compassionate awareness of one’s own inner experience), empathy (listening to another with deep compassion), and honest self-expression (expressing oneself authentically).
Normalize – to share a perspective that one’s behavior is normal and expectable considering their circumstances; to help someone see that their problems originated outside them, and that is what is making them feel wrong inside.
Norms / Normative beliefs – spoken or unspoken expectations or rules of behavior about what is acceptable in a group or society that are used to guide and control behavior; in groups, both leaders and other members reinforce conformity to norms and censure nonconformity in many obvious and subtle ways; norms reflect and enforce behavioral boundaries between right and wrong in societies and groups; norms prescribe “proper” behavior.
Obedience – the act of complying with someone’s wishes or demands; dutiful or submissive behavior.
Objectivity – value neutrality; having judgment undistorted by emotion or personal beliefs or bias, or being able to act without such distortion.
Obsequious – obedient or attentive in an ingratiating or servile manner; too ready to agree; attempting to win favor from influential people by flattery; being a ‘yes man’; brown-nosing.
Observation reactivity – a problem associated with direct observation of interaction; occurs when people behave differently when they know they are being observed than when they believe they are not.
Open-mindedness – being receptive to new ideas and information while putting aside old ideas and beliefs; being respectful and without bias towards ideas different from one’s own or information that might challenge one’s belief framework.
Openness / openness to experience – having an inclination to try new things and places, and not having set ideas or preferences; being curious about new ideas and willing to reexamine previously held perspectives; one of the Big Five Personality Factors.
Opportunity – when circumstances provide a favorable background for something to occur, the supporting environmental contingencies of behaviors.
Option generation – brainstorming and using creative thinking to imagine all possibilities for addressing a conflict or difficulty between peoples; unexpected options are crucial to include, in order to break up patterned thinking.
Organizing/community organizing – a process where people come together (with or without facilitation) and form an organization that acts in their shared self-interest and to generate collective power in community affairs; the goal is to create a stable means to influence key decision-makers on a range of issues before important decisions are made; includes working with and developing new local leaders, facilitating coalitions and assisting in the development of campaigns.
Out-group – anyone who is not in your own group, or a group which is not your group; “Them” – those perceived as different or apart from one’s in-group; social groups to which one does not belong or identify, and toward which they generally feel antagonism and prejudice.
Out-group homogeneity bias – individuals see members of their own group as being more varied than members of other groups (“All xxx are alike”); major aspect of stereotyping.
Overconfidence-the tendency to be more confident than correct; to overestimate the accuracy of one’s beliefs and judgments
Ownership – intellectual agreement and emotional support of ideas, opinions, behaviors, goals and/or values; the psychological side of ownership that does not have to do with legal rights to property, but concerns standing behind something with one’s efforts and energy; an organization’s workforce will work harder for goals when they feel ownership of them, usually because they helped develop the goals, can relate to them, and do not feel conflicted by them (because of personal goals or professional ethics).
Pacifism – a commitment to peace and opposition to war; the belief that violence of any kind is harmful and unjustifiable; there are many types of pacifism, some defined by their religious orientation (e.g., Quaker) and some defined by whether they hold their beliefs unconditionally (absolute pacifism) or relatively (conditional pacifism), or whether they also believe they must actively work and speak out for peace and against violence and war (active pacifism).
Pacifist – someone who believes in pacifism to some degree.
Pain and discomfort – aversive and unpleasant emotional and physical sensations, whether due to unhappy interpersonal behaviors or aversive environmental conditions (heat, hunger, loud noise).
Paraverbals – qualities of spoken communication (loudness, pitch, emotionality) or vocal sounds (sighs, clicking sounds, growls, throat clearing) which convey subtle or direct messages to enhance interactions.
Parent training – programs designed to help people become better parents, whether to prevent abuse (high school programs) or to remediate abusive tendencies; often these programs include education, and role playing of parenting situations.
Parties – players or participants in a conflict; primary parties are those who oppose one another, are using fighting behavior, and have a stake in the outcome of the conflict; secondary parties have an indirect stake in the outcome and are often allies or sympathizers with primary parties but not direct adversaries; third parties are actors such as mediators and peacekeeping forces which might intervene to facilitate resolution; parties differ in the directness of their involvement in a conflict and the importance of its outcome for them.
Party Power – the types and sources of power held by a member or side in a conflict; includes individual resources, persuasive skills, alliances and other factors which influence their likelihood of getting what they wish; unequal party power should be represented by different circle sizes in diagrams of conflict and then addressed by mediators.
Paternalism – policy or practice of treating or governing people in a fatherly manner, especially by providing for their needs without giving them rights or responsibilities; fatherlike control over subordinates.
Patience – a state of enduring difficult or tiresome circumstances without negativity, annoyance or anger; staying calm under strain, especially when faced with long-term difficulties.
Patient role – the specific characteristics and behaviors that people are expected to perform when they go to a professional for help, including to believe one is broken and needs to be fixed by an external ‘expert’, and to be passive and accepting of whatever the professional orders.
Patriarchy – where males have primary authority in a society, and greater access to resources and personal rights.
Patrol – to travel around one’s neighborhood or community, especially in areas of risk, look for signs of trouble and work to make a difference; there are many philosophies and purposes of patrols, but those allied with interpersonal peacemaking tend to patrol as unarmed witnesses and to not intervene, although some with conflict resolution training may work to defuse risky situations.
Peace – a state of being (socially, relationally or individually) that works harmoniously, without violent conflict; a state which provides the enjoyment of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, safety in matters of social or economic welfare, the provision of equality and fairness by governing institutions and documents, and the absence of hostility and oppression towards low power groups; Galtung defines peace as “the ability to handle conflict, with empathy, nonviolence and creativity” (2011); negative peace is as an absence of violence and conflict, while positive peace is the presence of justice and harmony.
Peace building / fostering – (Galtung) involves the creation and restoration of systems, structures, underlying conditions and skills needed to accept dissent, address conflict constructively, and build positive networks.
Peace culture – (Galtung) that people start discussing and celebrating culture, their own and others’, what can be done to make it more peace-productive — and then do it.
Peace education – (Galtung) teaching and learning peacemaking skills along with the truth about conflict, violence and cultures / diversity issues at all schools at all levels, as developmentally appropriate.
Peace Ethic vs. War Ethic – two polar responses to the human security dilemma – making war versus making peace; these ethics discuss whether we are made safer by attacking others or finding ways to live peacefully with our neighbors.
Peace Journalism – (Galtung) responsible media which informs the public about ways out of conflicts and about the solution culture, thus building resilience against the violence culture.
Peace movements – (Galtung) commitment to learn peace skills and work for peace by all states, nonstates and all corporations, making them accountable to peace building.
Peace officer – any police officer may be called a peace officer, but this term generally refers to the peacekeeping and order maintenance work of police, to prevent behaviors that threaten the public order.
Peace structure – (Galtung) the result of transforming exploitative and repressive institutional structures for nature, genders, races, classes, nations and states to provide for a balance of basic needs, equity and justice.
Peace zones – (Galtung) starting with oneself as one-person peace zone based on the principles above, then constructing chains of peace.
Peacebuilding – (Galtung) encompasses peacemaking in addition to the restoration of underlying conditions and skills needed to address conflict constructively, and build positive ties in all directions.
Peaceful coexistence: sharing resources and space with others in homes, institutions, work sites and communities, as well as tolerating those one has differences with; the most common state of interpersonal relationships throughout history and throughout the world (Ury), while war and violence are exceptions that interrupt this state.
Peacekeeping – maintaining community safety within the status quo by using minimum force as a protection for the defenseless and as a protective barrier in-between violent actors and potential victims; providing containment; peacekeeping does not seek to change the system, it mainly works to provide safety within an society’s status quo though it will push to create safety mechanisms.
Peacemaking – working for peace through reconciling conflicts, preventing violence and changing perceptions and actions of conflict along with providing positive means for addressing differences and sharing resources.
Peace-monger – a highly anxious risk-avoider, someone who is more concerned with good feelings than with progress, someone whose life revolves around the axis of consensus, a “middler,” someone who is incapable of taking well-defined stands; someone who treats conflict or anxiety like mustard gas – one whiff, and on goes the emotional gas mask and they flee; such leaders are often “nice,” if not charming, but seldom effective.
Peer group – people of similar age, gender, social status, ethnic background, education and/or values who one feels are similar or comparable to oneself.
Peer pressure – the influence exerted by a peer group, encouraging individuals to change their attitudes, values, or behaviors in order to conform to group norms.
Perception – the process of organizing and interpreting sensory information from the environment in order to understand it; subject to many biases.
Permissive Parents – (indulgent, nondirective or lenient) parents who have few expectations or limits for children but are warm and nurturing and very responsive to the child’s needs and wishes – may not require children to behave appropriately.
Perpetrator – an adult (or stronger child) who has committed an act of abuse to another or is responsible for neglect and/or endangerment of a child in their care.
Personal growth after loss – the potential positive outcome after relationship loss; a significant number of people suffering a loss report that they are better as a result; they feel stronger, more true to their ideals and more fulfilled.
Personal space – the buffer zone we like to maintain around our bodies; the region surrounding a person which they regard as psychologically theirs; most people value their personal space and feel discomfort, anger, or anxiety when their personal space is encroached.
Personality & behavioral style – the distinctive patterns of behavior, feelings, thoughts, coping strategies, motivations and attitudes exhibited by an individual.
Perturbations – unpleasant and stressful vibrations that come from adverse feedback (similar to cognitive dissonance) which push individuals and relationships towards change.
Politeness / Civility – showing respect toward others, as in behavior, speech, etc.; courteous and civil; may reflect balance of power, such that those with less power are more likely to say ‘please’, ‘may’ and ‘could’ to make a request instead of using a directive or demand form of communication.
Political bullying – bullying between political candidates, politicians and media figures can be a source of riches, fame, votes and intense media attention; international political bullying occurs when stronger countries exploit weaker ones; includes false information campaigns, disrespectful and hateful speech, and even invitations to commit violence.
Positive affect – emotions which are pleasant, enjoyable and/or beneficial to experience and are associated with positive beliefs about one’s experiences; positive feelings are associated with general satisfaction and overall life quality; includes happiness, interest, sense of accomplishment, pleasure and understanding.
Positive discipline – parenting methods that emphasize and balance both love and limit-setting with the goal of providing children with valuable life skills and avoid the extremes of punitive or permissive approaches; consistent with the authoritative parenting style.
Positive feedback – seeks deep, structural change, 2nd order change.
Positive illusions – beliefs that are more positive than reality warrants.
Positive psychology – the scientific study of optimal human functioning; aims to discover and promote strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive.
Positive reframing – providing an alternative conceptualization and explanation for phenomena that are seen negatively (to some degree) in order to reduce fear and other negative reactions to them; often used in therapy and conflict transformation to reduce negative emotions and harmful reactions to them.
Positive school climate – ideal qualities of school climate that provide for an optimal learning experience for students, hypothesized to include – physical safety, norms and practices that provide emotional safety, respect, accountability and support, caring and responsive attitudes, and a cooperative partnership between administration, teachers and students to promote learning, life skills and school functions.
Positive to negative affect ratio – John Gottman’s term for the balance of positive feelings to negative in the behaviors and communications within a relationship.
Poverty – the condition of lacking basic human needs, such as clean water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter, because of the inability to afford them; pronounced deprivation in well-being, including low levels of health and education, poor access to clean water and sanitation, inadequate physical security, lack of voice, and insufficient capacity and opportunity to better one’s life.
Power – the capacity to control one’s environment, especially resources and people; power can enable or constrain self (power within) or others (power over), whether through psychological influence, structural controls or violence; power may be acquired by virtue of social roles, superior intelligence, social position, authority, physical strength, knowledge, technology, weapons, wealth, or the trust of others.
Power and control dynamics – one of the primary dynamics of human (and interspecies) interactions having to do with control of resources in order to assure that one’s needs are met; unfortunately, the dynamics of power and control skew judgment, so that those with power are less sensitive to the needs of those without power, exaggerate their own qualifications, and are seldom willing to relinquish it.
Power abuse – whenever someone who has power over others (that is, the capacity to impose his/her will on those others), uses that power to exploit or harm those others, or through lack of action, allows exploitation or harm to occur to them.
Power distance (High vs. Low) – (Hofstede, 1984) a way to explain the handling of power differences existing in a system of inequality. It reflects a culture’s attitude towards human inequality and determines relationships between males and females, parents and children, authority figures and subordinates and upper class and lower class individuals. Where low power distance is present, relationships are egalitarian with access to near equal levels of power. High power distance thrives inside hierarchical cultures and groups where importance is placed on high social status that includes many privileges and powers.
Power elite – C. Wright Mills’ term to refer to society’s top business, politics & the military leaders who have interwoven interests and work together; ordinary citizens are relatively powerless to their influence and manipulation in the big decisions in U.S. society.
Power motive – a personal motive that reflects that need to have impact on others; may be expressed in a number of ways, including direct efforts to forcefully control others and indirect attempts to influence, charm, persuade, or even help others.
Power struggle – a conflict over issues and differences of power and control; power struggles are usually long-term conflicts that evolve over the course of a personal or work relationship; the more hidden and unconscious a struggle is, the more difficult it tends to be, as there is likely to be a need for power or an ingrained status or gender power difference behind the conflict.
Prejudice – unfavorable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, esp. of a hostile nature based on inadequate facts regarding a racial, religious, or national group; intolerance of or dislike for people based on some irrelevant characteristic (race, culture, class, disability, age, gender, weight); negative prejudging.
Prevent – to stop or hinder something from happening; implies dealing with root causes, so that problems do not arise, or dealing with them when they first arise.
Primary prevention – working to prevent problems or diseases before they occur rather than after they have already caused damage; focusing on building health and avoiding harmful factors instead of repair afterwards.
Prioritizing – ability to discern important points, needs and concerns from less crucial issues; ability to find core issues that unite or lie behind other issues; prioritizing what concerns to address first is essential to conflict resolution, because it avoids descending into all-out war or crisis, and saves time by focusing your efforts on that which has the most power to disrupt relations, leaving the little things for skill-building empowerment.
Privileged communication – communication between a client and a member of certain professions (clergy, psychologists, doctors, lawyers) which have established legal protections for information gathering necessary for their work; privileged communication cannot be used as evidence in court; also applies to husband-wife communications.
Problem-solving skills – capacities which improve the ability to solve difficulties and conflicts, including open exploration of needs and interests, generating options, cost-risk-benefit analysis of options and consequences, openness to new ideas, awareness of power imbalances and evaluating rationale and likelihood of success for chosen option.
Process thinking – seeing that nothing is static, that everything is constantly changing, so that learning about patterns and change processes is essential in order to study phenomena.
Professional behavior – calmly and objectively carrying out duties or services without letting one’s personal feelings or biases get in the way; being able to work so that problems and difficulties do not cause impairments in one’s work performance.
Professional boundaries –an understanding of professional roles, relationships and behaviors as distinguished from personal roles, relationships and behaviors; personal distance from clients so that one’s feelings do not get in the way of professional objectivity and functioning; recommendations are to abstain from personal relationships with clients until a period, ranging from 3 to 12 months, after services have been rendered.
Profit – in social exchange theory, rewards minus costs in the outcome of an interaction.
Programming – designing, selection, planning and scheduling of steps (events, trainings, work sessions) to accomplish an overall goal; for example, to decrease bullying, a school’s programming might include anger management classes, conflict management and empathy curricula for students along with bullying identification and conflict mediation training for teachers.
Prosocial Behavior – a pattern of actions where people act to benefit or help other people (or groups or society at large) with no thought of reward; positive, constructive, helpful behavior; the motivation to help is called altruism; the antonym of prosocial is antisocial.
Protestant work ethic – a value system that stresses the moral value of work, self-discipline, and individual responsibility as the means to improving one’s economic well-being.
Provocation – a negative interaction (insult, rudeness, interference), perceived injustice or event that stimulates anger or aggression.
Psychological resilience – the positive capacity of people to cope with stress and catastrophe; a characteristic of strength and resistance to future stress and negative events.
Qualifications – skills, education, training and/or experiences which makes someone fit for a certain job or task; degrees, certification or licenses which attest to one’s fitness for specific work.
Qualifiers – phrases such as I guess, sort of, I mean, and you know, that express uncertainty.
Racial discrimination – any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, skin color, descent, or national / ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life; culturally sanctioned beliefs, which, regardless of intentions involved, defend the advantages whites have because of the subordinated position of racial minorities (United Nations).
Racial disparities – significant disadvantages in many domains of life (health, safety, income, work opportunities, access to justice and housing) based on minority racial status.
Racism – a belief that all members of some racial groups possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially to distinguish it as being either superior or inferior to another racial group; usually denotes race-based prejudice, violence, dislike, discrimination, or oppression; prejudice and discrimination on the basis of race.
Rage – an intense and often overpowering feeling of anger; when anger reaches the extreme heat of rage it is often at the point of losing control, desiring to harm and committing violence.
Rape – nonconsensual oral, anal, or vaginal penetration, obtained by force, by threat of bodily harm, or when the victim is incapable of giving consent.
Rape myths – a number of common, popularly held and inaccurate beliefs that justify the occurrence of rape, e.g. “women really want it” and “she was asking for it by …”
Reactance – the urge to do the opposite of what someone else tells you to do, especially if they are in a position of authority.
Readjustment – the sometimes vulnerable period after a major change when a system reworks its elements in order to accommodate changes and restore homeostatic balance.
Realism – the belief that our reality is completely independent of our conceptual schemes, language, beliefs, values, etc.; whatever we believe now is only an approximation of reality, and every new observation brings us closer to understanding reality; not idealistic.
Reasserting dominance – establishing and maintaining dominance in a conversation by way of interruptions or physical gestures.
Receptive communication – the ability to listen, understand and consider internally the information and messages sent by another intentionally or unintentionally.
Reciprocal causation – the difficulty of determining causation when variable are both causes and effects of each other (e.g., relationship trust and satisfaction, individual characteristics and marital characteristics, etc.).
Reconciliation – (Galtung) learning to apologize and accept apologies, how to ask for forgiveness and forgive, how to heal and close conflicts.
Redemptive power – the capacity or strength to free someone from past errors and failings; a powerful healing influence on people who have been damaged by ugly events and actions.
Reductionism – the theory that every complex phenomenon, esp. in biology or psychology, can be explained by isolating its parts and defining them at a static point in time; the practice of simplifying a complex idea, issue, condition, to the point of minimizing it; the typical western scientific approach which loses some of the unified processing of nature.
Referent power – (French & Raven, 1960) derives from subordinates’ (or group members’) respect and trust for a leader and their values and vision; leading by positive example so that subordinates desire to support his/her power.
Reframing/Cognitive Reframing – changing the meaning, context and/or significance of a phenomena we experience by challenging negative or limiting expectations about it, and replacing them with positive or more open expectations; shifting perceptions and perspectives about a situation to more constructive and open-minded ones; sometimes referred to as detoxifying language.
Rejection interruptions – interruptions that express disagreement.
Relational aggression – verbal, nonverbal and behavioral actions intending to damage the friendships or group acceptance of another; includes spreading harmful negative information about them, whether true or untrue, or rejecting them as friends or members of a group.
Relationship / Marital satisfaction – the subjective evaluation of one’s feelings (positive and negative) about overall experiences in a marriage or relationship.
Relationship / Marital stability – the strength of a marriage or relationship to continue, to weather the stresses and strains of life together as a couple; A measure of the durability and intactness of the marital or relationship contract, though not necessarily of relationship satisfaction.
Relationship boundaries – psychological and physical boundaries around a relationship; how much time and space is devoted to care for relationship needs versus spent on individual concerns, other relationships or outside demands (jobs).
Relationship compatibility – ratio of facilitating to interfering and conflictual events in partners’ interactions.
Relationship discord – the degree to which people in a relationship are experiencing negative conflict, negative interactions and negative affect towards each other.
Relationship dissolution process – a complex and highly variable series of overt and covert events and behaviors leading to the ending of a relationship; the uncoupling process; often this follows a negative spiral or descending cascade of worsening communication, respect and regard.
Relationship dynamics – the totality of interaction patterns in a relationship over time; includes communication, problem-solving, conflict, parenting and sexual functioning patterns.
Relationship equifinality – a term for the phenomenon that many paths can lead to the same relationship end; for example, a relationship’s ending does not mean that either partner did anything wrong and a relationship’s enduring does not mean things were necessarily done right.
Relationship infrastructure – the patterns that shape interactions in a relationship, usually determined by power/control dynamics, rules and roles that are assigned to each partner.
Relationship preconceptions – expectations that people have about their partners in a relationship, including some that are derived from the partner and some that come from past experiences and attitudes; these form a web of expectancies which shape actions and plans between partners.
Relationship schemas – mental constructs for regular patterns in interpersonal relationships (romantic, work, educational, friendship…); hypothesized to contain 3 elements – a self-schema in that type of relationship, a person schema for others involved, and an interaction script for expected interactions; often totally out of consciousness, especially when partners are thinking about something else while interacting.
Relationship skills – having the necessary skills to establish and maintain healthy relationships; includes effective communication and cooperation, resisting inappropriate social pressure, preventing, managing, and resolving conflict, and seeking help when needed; social skills; a component of Social Emotional Learning (CASEL).
Relativism / moral relativism – belief that the truth or falseness of moral judgments, or their justification, is not objective or universal but instead relative to the traditions, beliefs, or practices of a group of people.
Research – the search for knowledge; any systematic investigation, with an open mind, for the advancement of human understanding; scientific research relies on the application of the scientific method to establish new discoveries, solve problems, or develop theories.
Respect – acting as if one believes in the worth of another; treating them with regard and consideration; to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with another’s wishes.
Responsibility to the Profession – since your profession is only as good as the sum of those who represent it, each of us must work toward the maintenance and promotion of high standards of professionalism, by developing our own skills to practice at the highest levels we are capable of, and by monitoring the practices of fellow professionals and agencies; also includes writing articles and doing presentations to advance the knowledge of others.
Responsible decision-making – making important decisions based on evaluation of ethical standards (e.g., effect on the well-being of others), safety concerns, appropriate social norms, respect for others, and likely consequences of various choices; a component of Social Emotional Learning (CASEL).
Responsiveness – (Baumrind, Bowlby) involves the parent(s) being attuned to and then answering and supporting the infant/child’s needs; the first major factor that emerges from factor analytic studies of parenting.
Restorative justice – a philosophy of criminal legal practice concerned not with retribution and punishment but with healing the harm caused by a crime, especially to the victim, but also addressing the conditions that led to the crime and reintegrating the offender into society; it frequently a) brings an offender and a victim together, so that the offender can better understand the effect his/her offense had on the victim, and the victim can see the offender as a human being (not a monster), and b) expects the offender to make amends by repairing the harm they have caused to the victim.
Reversal effects – in relationship research, sometimes it is found that conflict, and other ‘negative’ behaviors can have positive effects on relationship satisfaction; these are inconsistently found; this may be related to many other relationship factors, including the stage of the relationship, or that the issues being addressed are important ones for finding compromises in power and fulfilling needs of partners.
Reward power – (French & Raven, 1960) the ability to give some sort of reward to employees or group member; rewards can range from money to benefits to improved work conditions.
Risk factors – a variable associated with increased or decreased chance or likelihood of some outcome, usually an illness or difficulty.
Ritual – a set of actions and words that usually derive from cultural or spiritual tradition and carry culturally specific meanings and approval; rituals are done to mark special days in the calendar (e.g., Christmas, Day of the Dead) or passages in a family or individual’s life (e.g., marriage, birth).
Role – a part one performs according to a script; the characteristic and expected social behavior of an individual in certain positions; a function or position one acts to fulfill as a duty.
Role-based interactions – Interactions in which each person’s behavior is influenced not by the partner’s behavior but by societal norms and prescriptions that govern the behavior of all people who assume that particular role; includes gender defined behavior.
Rules – words and messages which shape, prescribe and limit the behavior of people in an organization or family over time; they are repeated explicitly or implied and rarely written down. They give power, induce guilt, and control or limit behaviors; i.e., “Don’t talk about it”, “Be responsible”, “Perfection is expected”.
Rumination – intense and prolonged thinking about something, often nonproductive overanalysis that is based on fears; worries.
Safe environment – a calm and secure setting where people can be themselves and not worry about being attacked physically or psychologically; the first step in any healing relationship, whether professional or personal, for people who are hurt or scared, is to create a place that has that physical security along with ground rules against attacks that also promote open-minded listening.
Scapegoat – a person or group unfairly made to bear the blame for others’ difficulties; someone who is punished for the errors or sins of others; in families, groups and other systems, the one who is consistently criticized and targeted in order to channel negative energy away from those in charge, though this does not work.
School bullying – intentional and repeated physical and/or psychological aggression against a physically weaker or lower power status student with the aim of robbing, intimidating, humiliating or controlling them; occurs mostly in physical education classes, recess, hallways, bathrooms, on school buses and waiting for buses, classes that require group work and/or after school activities.
School climate – the quality, patterns and character of school life as seen through student and staff experiences; norms; goals and values; peer and authority relationships; teaching, learning and leadership dynamics; as well as physical characteristics (classroom layout, aesthetics, cleanliness and building upkeep); the most studied of the group climates.
Scripts / behavioral script – a mentally learned sequence of expected behaviors for a given situation; scripts become habituated step by step plans that guide us in how to respond in new situations according to their category, such as work, home, friend, boss, stranger, etc. .
Second order change – deep change that fundamentally alters the structure of a system and requires a focused energy to maintain stability until balance is restored.
Selective attention – the idea that people focus their awareness on others (in open fields) by conscious choice or unconscious habit, also whether selective focus is based on control of the environment or on the principle of efficiency (who or what will help us in attaining our goals).
Self-alienation – a syndrome where people are so cut off from their feelings and internal balance (via self-regulating mechanisms) that they are surprised when they have an emotional crisis or disorder such as depression, anxiety disorder, exhaustion or substance abuse problem; usually this is a gradual process of losing touch with who they are due to playing roles (e.g., trying to meet others’ expectations) as opposed to a sudden change.
Self-awareness – the ability to accurately assess one’s feelings, behavior, values, and strengths while maintaining a well-grounded sense of self-confidence; a component of Social Emotional Learning (CASEL).
Self-determination – control of one’s life by oneself, without unwelcome outside influences.
Self-disclosure – the conscious and unconscious process of revealing more about ourselves to others (has depth, breath).
Self-disclosure reciprocity – a strategy in which people tend to match the others self-disclosure in terms of intimacy and valence.
Self-fulfilling prophecy – a statement or belief which alters actions so that what is predicted eventually come true; a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true due to positive feedback between belief and behavior; example – If you keep telling yourself that you’re going to fail, you are more likely to notice signs that show you are failing, lose heart and ultimately fail – can be positive or negative.
Self-management – the ability to regulate one’s emotions to handle stress (emotional regulation), control impulses, and persevere in overcoming obstacles; setting, pursuing and monitoring progress toward personal and academic/professional goals; a component of Social Emotional Learning (CASEL).
Self-regulation – systems term for how living organisms (including relationships and groups) maintain balance within by compensating to correct for disruptions (pain, frustration, boredom, anxiety); problems occur when people habitually ignore signals of internal disruption because they are out of touch with their inner selves, and therefore cannot stay in balance.
Self-serving bias – occurs when people attribute their successes to internal or personal factors but attribute their failures to situational factors beyond their control; the common human tendency to take credit for success but to deny responsibility for failure.
Sense of community – (McMillan & Chavis, 1986) a perception and belief that one belongs to and matters to a group of people united by geography or purpose (e.g., medical community); a shared faith and commitment to work together to support and protect each other within a community; has 4 elements – membership, influence, integration and fulfillment of needs, and shared emotional connection.
Separate gender cultures hypothesis – the idea that men’s and women’s communication patterns are so different that they resemble distinct cultures.
Sex – used in some research as the term used for gender differences.
Sex discrimination – discrimination on the basis of gender; certain forms of sexual discrimination are illegal in some countries, while in other countries it may be required by law in various circumstances.
Sex role division of labor – the division of work, especially subsistence tasks between women and men.
Sexual assault – (also called sexual violence) the threatened or actual use of physical force to obtain sexual contact without the willing consent of the victim; may involve sexual activity with someone who is unable to give consent (due to intoxication or lack of consciousness) or is too immature to make a responsible decision (a child).
Sexual coercion – a type of sexual aggression; involves the use of nonphysical (i.e., verbal or psychological) tactics to manipulate, pressure, or coerce the partner to comply with sexual demands when they otherwise would not be willing.
Sexual double standard – encompasses the normative beliefs that sexuality is an inherent aspect of masculinity, that the male sex drive is an uncontrollable and powerful force, and that women’s expressions of resistance to sex are merely token and not reflective of their true feelings; also includes the belief that women should be virgins, and if they are not, they are “spoiled goods”; is implicated in sexual aggression.
Sexual functioning of couples – the maintenance of sexual desire and positive sexual interactions between the partners; relationship satisfaction is usually found to be highly correlated with sexual satisfaction, so is an important aspect of relationship satisfaction.
Sexual harassment – the making of unwanted and offensive sexual advances or of sexually offensive remarks or acts, especially by one in a superior or supervisory position (teacher, boss) or when acquiescence to such behavior is a condition of continued employment, promotion, or satisfactory evaluation; unwelcome sexual attention at work or at school, which may affect job or school performance or create a hostile environment.
Shaman – a traditional spiritual leader who uses supernatural power in curing; also called healer or curandero.
Shame – the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself; a relational/social emotion.
Shelters – a common treatment program for victims of domestic violence which involves providing living quarters so the victims can be separated and safe, teaching living and coping skills, and helping them to make a new start.
Similarity (actual, objective) – the extent to which relationship partners are alike on social, physical and psychological characteristics, as measured by objective outside observers or measures; Perceived similarity is often exaggerated.
Similarity-attraction hypothesis – a theoretical idea that holds that people are attracted to others with similar attitudes; well documented tendency for people to prefer similar others for partners, friends and associates (de facto similarity, belief validation).
Situational couple violence – a situation in which one or both partners may become violent in response to certain situations or cues, but not usually violent on a day to day level.
Social awareness – being able to take the perspective of others and empathize with them despite cultural and other differences; recognizing and accessing family, school, and community resources; a component of Social Emotional Learning (CASEL).
Social categorization – the process by which the features of a newly encountered person are associated with people known in the past who possess similar features and placed into the same category; generally occurs quickly, effortlessly, and unconsciously via automatic associative information processing
Social change – an alteration in the social structure or character of a society, usually based on change in the thought process in humans; may refer to the notion of social progress or sociocultural evolution (the philosophical idea that society moves forward) or a paradigmatic change in socio-economic structure (for instance a shift away from feudalism and towards capitalism), or to social revolution (such as the Women’s suffrage or Civil rights movement) or to social declines (as in the fall of the Roman Empire); may be driven by cultural, religious, economic, scientific or technological forces.
Social clock – the culturally preferred timing of social events such as marriage, parenthood, and retirement.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) – (CASEL) an educational process for learning life skills necessary for emotional health, happiness and success; SEL is focused on five areas – Self-Awareness, Self-Management (such as impulse control, expressing emotions appropriately), Social Awareness (e.g., empathy), Relationship Skills (includes resisting peer pressure, cooperation, and conflict prevention and resolution), and Responsible Decision-Making.
Social inequality/ inequity – the condition of lacking equal social status; may include deprivation of voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, as well as inadequate access or denial of access to justice, counsel, property rights, education, health care, quality housing, meaningful employment and other resources that are needed for quality of life; giving privileges and obligations to one group of people while denying them to another.
Social integration – the extent to which an individual possesses ties to others; often measured by combining assessments of present living situation (committed relationship, children), degree of contact with friends and relatives, participation in formal and informal organizations, and church membership.
Social loafing – the tendency for people in a group to exert less effort when working together toward a common goal than when individually accountable.
Social network – the relationships an individual has with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and people in groups to which the person belongs and interacts regularly, e.g. church, sports, political, social, and other groups; can include family, kinship, neighborhood, tribe.
Social schema – a mental construct that includes beliefs and information about a class of people or social event (or anything to do with people) and how they work; similar to social category but these are more generalized and less rigid units of knowledge.
Social skills – skills for managing interactions and communication with others and with society at large; includes negotiation of social, occupational and family needs as well as solving problems and handling conflicts.
Social skills deficits – a lack of any major area of social skills.
Social stratification – an arrangement of members of a society into a pattern of superior and inferior ranks.
Social support – the emotional comfort, coping assistance and resources given to us by our family, friends and others, and knowing that we are part of a community of people who care for and value us (enacted vs perceived, invisible).
Social taboos – a strong social prohibition (or ban) to questioning or researching any area of human activity that is traditional or customary. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society.
Social undermining – behaviors toward another that display negative affect (e.g., anger); that demonstrate negative evaluation of the person in terms of his or her attributes, actions, and efforts (e.g., criticism); and/or behaviors that interfere with the attainment of the other’s goals.
Social, emotional and ethical/civic learning – the nonacademic domains of learning that occur during the school years (both inside and outside the school setting) which shape later emotional health, relationships and community engagement; an extension of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) towards ethics and citizenship.
Socialization – the process by which culture is learned; also called enculturation; during socialization individuals internalize a culture’s social rules, beliefs, values and norms.
Societal taboos – a strong social prohibition (or ban) to questioning or researching any area of human activity that is traditional or customary. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society.
Socioeconomic status (SES) – is a measure of a person or family’s economic and social position relative to others, based on their income, wealth, education and work status; SES is a fundamental determinant of human welfare, physical health, mental health and functioning.
Spiritual love – altruistic love for all sentient beings, benevolent and unconditional, without self-interest; ultimate compassion and mercy; the unselfish love of others (agape is one version).
Spousal abuse / Battering / Intimate partner violence – a pattern of abusive behaviors (as in domestic violence) by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, or cohabitation.
Stability feedback – a relationship dynamic which provides information that urges a return to homeostasis without changing system structures in any substantial way (“don’t change!”); also called negative feedback.
Stage model of conflict – (Peterson, 1983) a model suggesting that arguments follow an orderly three-stage pattern (beginning, middle, and termination), leading to five predictable outcomes (structural improvement, integrative agreements, compromise, domination, separation).
Status differential – a marked difference in position rank, social standing or financial condition.
Stereotype – the beliefs about a social category or group that is shared by many people; often based on race, gender or religious affiliation.
Stress – the process by which we respond physically and emotionally (tension and arousal) to certain events that we appraise as threatening or challenging (called stressors),
Stress–Buffering Effect of Social Support – the finding that perceived social support protects and enhances well-being when stress is experienced.
Stressful events – difficulties experienced that inherently increase one’s stress load, including economic hardship, job loss, work stress, illness, and aging.
Stressor pileup – a term for what happens after a major stressor which triggers new stressors and crises (esp. financial, interpersonal); the accumulation becomes overwhelming and make recovery more difficult.
Stripping – Jourard’s term for reducing people to their functions and roles (professional, patient…) and removing their identities and all that makes them unique.
Strong listening – a set of skills for empowering listening in a conflict where communication has broken down; includes suspending judgment, seeing other’s experiences as they do, encouraging, clarifying, summarizing, asking for elaboration and verbally empathizing.
Structural improvement – conflict resolution techniques that work for a positive restructuring of the relationship (roles, power, ability to meet needs).
Structural violence – the systematic ways in which a government power prevents individuals or groups from achieving their full potential or from having a voice in legal and social matters; Institutionalized racism and sexism are examples of this.
Structure (family, social, group) – boundaries and patterns of rules, expectations and strategies (agreements, time limits, procedures) that govern the way people in a relationship or group interact.
Structured design – an intervention plan for a group having troubles that specifically targets its difficulties with effective ground rules and strategies arranged to maximize group development and learning accessibility.
Subordinates – someone who is subject to or dependent on another’s legal, civil or financial authority; unfortunately this dependence is often exploited by authority figures as an opportunity for emotional, sexual or physical abuse.
Subsystems – every system contains a number of smaller groups with a unique dynamic or relationship between its members; human subsystems are often called coalitions, or alliances; each subsystem has its own rules, boundaries, unique characteristics and developmental path.
Suicidal – being at risk for committing deliberate self-harm and possibly death; generally, someone is at high risk if they state the intention of harming themselves and have the means to do it and a plan.
Supervision – having the skill or authority to oversee and direct the behavior of another; often supervision occurs as a teaching role, guiding the skill development of a younger individual, though peers can also supervise each other; good supervision should encourage the strengths of the less experienced person, help them overcome weaknesses and use mistakes as teaching moments (not opportunities for belittling).
Support – a relationship dynamic which provides positive energy, support and safety to others; a synthesis of the concepts of social support and nurtenergy from Living Systems Theory.
Sustainable – using natural and human resources in a way that does not jeopardize the opportunities of future generations.
Sustainable peace – a peace that includes social structures that maintain healthy and peaceful communities, by providing access to jobs, justice, education, a healthy environment and conflict resolution processes.
Sustainable peacemaking – working for peace beyond conflict resolution to include strengthening of prosocial and conciliation skills as well as teaching perceptions and processes that advocate sharing power and treating conflict as a normal forum for negotiation of needs between community members.
System – a dynamic, interrelated collection of parts or components that have a unified purpose or territory, such as a family, group, organization or community; in groups or relationships, these connections are evident when a change in one member is likely to produce a change in other members.
Systems thinking – the application of systems concepts and processes from any of the systems sciences to an area of concern.
Systems theory – the modern version of the meta-theory General System Theory that states that all living things, parts of living things and groups of living things have certain common properties and processes, particularly that they work as wholes, follow patterns, are interconnected, change constantly and exchange energy.
Teamwork – work done by several people with each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole.
Temperance – having the moral strength and intelligence to refuse excess; living with respect and balance in one’s relationships to others and to the environment; honoring one’s health.
Termination – the ending of a relationship, whether personal or professional; the final phase and manner of ending a relationship, which has a strong effect on the overall perception of the relationship and what occurred within it.
The Rights of Nature / Mother Earth – the right of the natural environment / Mother Earth to have clean air, water and soil, to be able to complete natural cycles and regenerate natural systems.
The Third Side – (Ury, 1999) the perspective of the community as witness and context of conflict; witnesses have influence as part of the environment of a conflict because they have a role in how conflict is created or escalated; third side witnesses see the big picture including the community, history and environment, and can choose to promote peace because it serves community interests and values; nonpartisan media can act as a third side.
Theory of mind – people’s ideas about their own and other’s mental states – their feelings, perceptions, and thoughts, and the behavior these might predict.
Third world – countries with economies largely based on agriculture and characterized by low standards of living, and general economic and technological dependence upon wealthier industrial nations; ethnocentric way of referring to other cultures because it ranks these countries below those of the “first world” (Europe, Japan, Canada, & the United States).
Threat assessment – evaluation process for identifying potentially violent individuals, groups and situations (both accidental and deliberate); studying risk factors that may harm schools, communities and institutions before trouble occurs, and determining ways to contain their risk of harm, whether through restriction, counseling, guards or other security measures.
Time out – a specified time period for disengagement, usually silent, that occurs in the middle of activity or interactions, in order to give participants a chance to chill out (relax, reconsider strong feelings and aggression); usually time outs are part of the ground rules agreed to at the beginning.
Toxic system/organization – a social system that has destructive elements such that members generally become influenced in destructive or unhealthy ways.
Traits – a personal characteristic or quality that distinguishes one person from another.
Transactive memory – a shared system for encoding, storing, and retrieving information that is greater than the individual memories; the communal memory bank of couples (or other relationship entities) consisting of the organized stores of knowledge that each member possesses and the communications used to access each other’s memories.
Transcendence – seeing a deeper meaning beyond the present material world; appreciating the deeper qualities (morality, compassion, skill, innate goodness, inner beauty) in one’s interactions and the environment, whether from a spiritual point of view or not.
Transfer of Excitation – transfer of arousal from an initial arousal-producing situation to a subsequent situation, increasing the emotional intensity associated with it; being infected by fear.
Transformation of motivation – a process in which relationship partners change their motivations from selfish (what’s in it for me?) and defensive ones to what is best for both partners and for relationship health; this process involves increasing common goals (correspondence of outcomes).
Transformational leadership – (Burns, 1978) using authority roles to mentor followers and subordinates, not control them; working to enhance followers’ motivation and morale, to encourage their creativity and the development of their own leadership skills (a subdued variation of this is called Quiet Leadership); Negative transformational leaders similarly inspire and encourage their followers, but do so without moral boundaries (encourage immorality such as stealing, lying, exploiting followers, etc.).
Transformational View – a theoretical position which maintains that the conflict is essential for relationship growth, and that conflicts point out areas needing attention.
Transgressions – violations of one’s duty or of boundaries that have been consciously or unconsciously set with others.
Transparency – a professional intervention approach in which nothing is hidden from the client, motivations are shared, and (ideally) all decision making and financial arrangements are carried out publicly.
Triangulation – Family Systems Theory term for when 2 family members pathologize a 3rd person; when two persons in the family system have problems with each other, they will frequently “triangulate” a third person as a way of stabilizing their own relationship and maintaining family homeostasis; can also happen between friends, within groups and in communities.
Tribe – a group that centers around kinship groups, ethnic identity, common traditions and/or territory that have cultural standards, traditions, rituals, values, roles and leaders.
Trust – belief in the responsiveness and good intentions of another in times of need; has been conceptualized as a personality trait (a chronic personal predisposition to trust or distrust others in general) but increasingly is viewed as a relationship variable (specific to a particular person).
Truth in Advertising – requirement by the Federal Trade Commission as well as various state and local government agencies, that advertisements not make misleading, false, or deceptive claims.
Turning point – the moment when the demand for change pushes someone or a relationship into a crisis which makes them have to choose to change in some way or suffer consequences; in systems theory, this is known as the bifurcation point.
Underclass – a group of people, concentrated in the inner city, who have little or no success with the job market and next to no chance to climb the social ladder.
Understanding – the mental and emotional process of comprehending another person or thing however subjective its nature; ability to grasp the full meaning of what someone is saying or doing; empathy for another.
Uninvolved Parents – (also called detached, dismissive or neglectful) parents who are low in warmth and responsiveness, are generally not involved in their child’s life, and do not set limits (even when danger is involved).
Unrealistic expectations – holding beliefs about another person, thing, or about the future that are not compatible with reality; unreasonably positive hopes that are not practical, corresponding to acknowledged limitations (finances, health) or are impossible in reality; in adult relationships, this means having overly idealistic (unreachable) beliefs about one’s partner or the relationship; in parenting, this means unreachable beliefs about a child’s capacity for performing a task or understanding the meaning of something; in groups, this means having overly idealistic beliefs about another, usually someone attractive or in a position of authority.
Unrequited Passionate Love – love that is not reciprocated; one person deeply desires another who either feels nothing or only has nonromantic regard for them.
Unresolved conflict – troubling feelings which remain under the surface despite efforts to discuss or address them; differences on an important matters or seeing inequality in access to needed resources which are not expressed due to fear of being seen as difficult or of someone’s disapproval; unresolved conflict can be very damaging to group progress as group tensions continue to build when issues are not considered or satisfied; members’ silence prevents examination of important details that each might provide.
Us & Them – a common way of referring to the separations between in-group and out-group, generally by comparing one’s in-group favorably while criticizing the out-group.
Values – ideas about what is important or worthwhile in life; attitudes and standards about what is desirable or undesirable and the way the world ought to be; beliefs about right and wrong, good and bad, beautiful or ugly.
Violate – to break, disregard, or transgress against a law, rule, or ethical principle; to behave unethically; to act in a harmful way towards someone so that their trust for you is destroyed.
Violation – an unethical or illegal action.
Violence (physical) – intentionally using physical force to injure or abuse someone; also destroying property or pets that matter to someone; types of violence include self-directed, interpersonal and collective.
Violence prevention – local, state and global policies, programs and that attempt to prevent violence; includes primary prevention (preventing its occurrence), secondary prevention (preventing damage when it occurs) and tertiary prevention (preventing long-term disability and reoccurrence).
Violent resistance – a situation in which one member of a group or family uses violence to fight back against a controlling or violent member; violence as a defense may or may not serve to protect one legally if charged with a crime.
Virtues – pattern of thought and behavior commonly valued as promoting others’ wellbeing (the common good); a virtuous person has high moral values but also lives them so that their behavior is consistent with what they say; virtues that are strongly associated with happiness include wisdom, courage, humanity (kindness), justice (fairness), temperance and transcendence (religiousness / spirituality) (Seligman, et al.).
Voluntariness – assurance that an agreement is not accepted due to coercion or coercive power; making certain that parties to an agreement are free to say yes or no and to walk away at any point.
War – an organized hostile and violent response to an apparent conflict; using violent means to harm and weaken an opponent in order to force them to accept terms or dominance by another; war generally refers to large-scale violent conflict between political factions or nations, but may also be used to refer to what happens in any relationship (couples, professional rivals, companies in competition) where parties declare each other ‘the enemy’ and engage in hostile attacks in order to ‘win’ dominance.
War Abolition – (Galtung) end current wars; more states without armies; outlawing research- production-distribution-use of major arms, as for hard drugs.
What is Beautiful is Good Bias – bias of assuming that physically attractive people are superior to others on many other traits, such as intelligence and overall personality; an extremely common bias that affects employment, relationships and social status.
Whistle-blower – one who reveals information on harmful or unethical behavior of another individual or organization after it had been kept secret; in the US there are many protections for whistle-blowers because of the tendency for reprisals and revenge against them.
Whole messages – verbal messages which have all four components of communication; observations, thoughts, feelings, and needs; this kind of communications is less likely to lead to guessing or projection, or to convey negative implications (whether intentional or unintentional).
Win – lose thinking – seeing the world as limited to that which supports me and my interests versus that which doesn’t, making everyone who does not support my interests first into adversaries; a selfish and fearful viewpoint which fosters aggression and conflict because it ignores the interconnectedness of “us” with all the others who share the community, nation and world with us; seeking to ‘win’ that which we need and desire despite the losses and consequences to others.
Win – win thinking – seeing the world as having many options for mutual support and gain, e.g., supporting my interests in balance with the needs and interests of others; thus if anyone wins, we all win and if anyone loses, we all lose.
Wisdom – open-minded love of knowledge with the ability to keep the perspective of long-term benefit and goodness of outcome (not being swayed by feelings, biases and opinions).
Witness – to observe events without taking sides; witnessing is used as a tool in interpersonal peacemaking because the presence of people watching calmly tends to suppress violence and impulsive behavior; effective peacemaking witnesses must be friendly, culturally sensitive, quiet, unarmed, and not take sides, though they may intervene to report harmful behaviors, take photographs or video recordings, call in other witnesses, transport someone at risk to safety or, with training, to try to talk potential instigators out of doing harm; there are many programs that use witnesses as peacemakers in US and international areas of risk.
Working Alliance – a concept from psychotherapy research about the need for professionals to engage their clients as partners to work together with determination on issues of concern (as opposed to being the expert who fixes things for them).
Yin – Yang – the Chinese/Taoist principle of Yin – Yang of how light and dark work together inseparably, with balance being necessary for best results; not a Western dualistic concept because of the polarities work together instead of in opposition.
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