Of course, conflict can be stressful. When stress impedes the resolution of the conflict, many methods are available to lessen stress. One method, studied at UCLA, is affirming one's values. Affirmations have been touted by many New Age gurus and joked about by comedians. In MedicineNet.com article "Trump Stress With Your Thoughts,"[that link no longer working so use this] David Creswell, lead researcher in this study of values affirmation, explains the difference between that kind of affirmation and the affirmation he studied . . .
Typically, when people think about affirmation, they think about Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live," says Creswell. "You know, 'I really like myself.' But this was a much more subtle activity -- just thinking about an important value.
The study looked at stress created by public speaking. Public speaking is often cited as number one on lists of fears. Prior to public speaking (and researchers added some stressors to the public speaking experience, including an unfriendly audience), research participants listed their top five values and then participated in an exercise that forced them to think about one of those values.
The study, described in the Psychological Science article "Affirmation of Personal Values Buffers Neuroendocrine and Psychological Stress Responses," found fewer indicators of stress in those who had affirmed their values prior to the stressful situation.
Although doing a values exercise is probably not going to be appropriate in many conflict resolution settings, getting disputants to recall important values is often done either deliberately or