Two‐Group Dynamic Conflict Scenarios: “Toy Model” with a Severity Index

  • Sanda Kaufman
  • Miron Kaufman (Cleveland State University)


This article draws on several research domains and disciplines—social psychology, models of complex systems, and planning scenario analysis—to propose a “toy” model of the dynamics of intergroup conflicts. The ingroup–outgroup conflict literature supports the notion that inside groups in conflict there are subgroups of intransigents seeking to “fight it out,” and flexibles seeking avenues for settlements. There is also support for the intransigents and flexibles in the two groups being susceptible to each other's goading to escalate conflicts or entreaties to reach agreement. However, since two‐group conflicts are embedded in complex systems with which they interact, it is difficult to predict outcomes and to assess the chances that intervention strategies might succeed or fail. We propose to use the model of two‐group conflicts based on the mutual susceptibilities of flexibles and intransigents (Kaufman & Kaufman, 2013) to construct toy model scenarios of possible conflict trajectories. For each scenario, we compute a Severity Index for Conflicts (SIC) that captures the likelihood that it will end in confrontation (rather than agreement). We offer some examples of intranational and international conflicts and show how the scenarios can be analyzed qualitatively to explore the range of possible outcomes. Further developments will include sensitivity analyses for various assumptions and asking “what if” questions that can inform strategies of response and intervention.

Keywords: qualitative research, political crisis, groups

How to Cite:

Kaufman, S. & Kaufman, M., (2015) “Two‐Group Dynamic Conflict Scenarios: “Toy Model” with a Severity Index”, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 8(1), 41-55. doi:

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Published on
21 Jan 2015
Peer Reviewed