My field is conflict, looking at why humans treat each other so violently. We’ve always known that this violence comes from the urge humans feel to control and dominate one another, but only recently have we studied this phenomenon from the inside, from the point of view of the individual’s consciousness. We have asked what happens inside a human being that makes him want to control someone else. We have found that when an individual walks up to another person and engages in a conversation, which happens billions of times each day in the world, one of two things can happen. That individual can come away feeling strong or feeling weak, depending on what occurs in the interaction.

For this reason we humans always seem to take a manipulative posture. No matter what the particulars of the situation, or the subject matter, we prepare ourselves to say whatever we must in order to prevail in the conversation. Each of us seeks to find some way to control and thus to remain on top in the encounter. If we are successful, if our viewpoint prevails, then rather than feel week, we receive a psychological boost.

In other words we humans seek to outwit and control each other not just because of some tangible goal in the outside world that we’re trying to achieve, but because of a lift we get psychologically. This is the reason we see so many irrational conflicts in the world both at the individual level and at the level of nations.

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