How our values shape our practices: Exploding the myth of neutrality

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


John Burdick


Conflict resolution, Worldview, Values, Neutrality, Intercultural

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Psychology | Rhetoric and Composition | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology


This work records research into whether and how a conflict resolution practitioner's values shape their practice behavior. The author used semi-structured interviews with well-known and experienced practitioners of environmental and intercultural conflict resolution to gather data. She then used narrative and metaphor analysis to glean the values from elicited practice stories. The author found that her methods revealed strong patterns of values in interviews, and aggregate data strongly suggested that those values were associated with differing patterns of practice. The patterns of correlations were summarized into a series of continuums of values across which practice approaches differed. Those continuums are further refined into a series of 'profiles' which represent major differences among practitioners in terms of value of practice and associated approaches to the work. Although not designed to reveal cause and effect relationships, the research revealed strong correlations between practitioner values and their practices.


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