Heated, emotional arguments are often something we try to avoid. Ian Leslie tells us the avoidance of conflict is more dangerous that the confrontation itself - for couples and families just as for democracies.
S2 E17: Conflict is Good, with Ian Leslie
“The avoidance of conflict is actually the real problem”
We traditionally view argument as a symptom of a problematic relationship, but relationship psychologists have found that they actually lead to healthier and happier people. Children who grow up arguing with their parents do better in school, and couples who air their disagreements stay together longer.
What holds true for the family, holds true for all groups of people: conflict is central to Democracy. Humans evolved to reason collectively: we need each other to get to the truth.
“For valuable conflict to occur, you need two things: a shared goal, and agreed rules of engagement.”
Listen to Ian and Turi discuss:
- Why arguments are good for us
- Why most ‘conflict’ on social media isn’t ‘Fight’, so much as ‘Flight’
- Why emotion is so important in conflict
- How we can turn our cognitive flaws to society’s advantage
- How humans evolved to reason collectively
- Democracy as an ‘Infinite Game’
- How we can have healthy arguments
“It doesn’t matter if you are right, it matters that WE, as a society, are right. Arguing is what gets us there.”
Works cited include:
- Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber’s Enigma of Reason
- James Carse and his Finite and Infinite Games
Read the Full Transcript
Ian Leslie is a writer and author of acclaimed books on human behaviour. He writes about psychology, culture, technology and business for the New Statesman, the Economist, the Guardian and the Financial Times. He is the author of Conflicted.
Subscribe to On Opinion: the Parlia Podcast
Why podcast? Our mission
The Parlia Podcast asks: what is an opinion? where do they come from? And what does that mean for politics and society?