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Conflict

Conflict

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Description:

This lesson will define, explore, and discuss different types of conflict.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

This lesson is going to review the role of conflict in stress by covering:

  1. Conflict
  2. Types of Conflict

1. Conflict

Generally people tend to think of conflict as something physical like having a fight with another person. While conflict can involve other people, this is not exactly what the psychological definition of it is. The psychological definition of conflict is when a person has to choose between two opposing or incompatible actions, motives, or ideas. It's sort of like trying to pick items on a menu when you're out at dinner, and having to choose between those things can create a conflict within a person.

Conflict can be important or helpful. Psychologist Erik Erikson claimed that conflict was an important motivation for each stage of development within a person. Conflict can also lead to stress, which can harm a person both psychologically and physically. Understanding exactly how it works is important for understanding how to prevent these kinds of negative things within a person.


2. Types of conflict

Kurt Lewin, a psychologist, identified three different types of conflict:

Approach approach conflict- When a person has to choose between two things that he or she wants or two things that are very desirable to that person. Generally, these kinds of conflicts within a person are less stressful than other kinds and are resolved more quickly.

Example When you're at an ice cream shop and have to decide between mint chip ice cream or butterscotch ice cream.

Avoidance avoidance conflict- When a person has to choose between two things that he or she doesn't want. The choice is between two things that are not desirable to a person or negative in some way. People generally have a hard time deciding in these situations, and they can be very stressful on a person. This may cause indecision, or freezing up, in a person because they don't want to decide.

ExampleShould you choose to sweep the floors or to wash the dishes? If neither chore is appealing to you, this is avoidance avoidance conflict.

Approach avoidance conflict- When a person both wants and doesn't want a certain kind of thing. A person often reacts in these kinds of situations with ambivalence, or mixed feelings that a person has about a situation. This is generally very stressful for a person, and can lead to a partial approach.

ExampleIf you want to be in a production on stage, but you have stage fright and don't like getting in front of other people. The partial approach would be if you decide to be in the play, you might just decide to have a small inconsequential or background part.

Terms to Know

    • Approach-Approach Conflict
    • When a person must choose between two things that he or she wants.
    • Avoidance-Avoidance Conflict
    • When a person must choose between two things that he or she doesn’t want.
    • Approach-Avoidance Conflict
    • When a person both wants and doesn’t want a thing.
    • Ambivalence
    • Mixed feelings about the situation.

A person can also have a double approach avoidance situation where they have two alternatives that are both neither good nor bad because they have both of those aspects. These are situations that are much more difficult for a person to decide upon. These types of situations can increase the stress and the psychological or emotional problems that a person has as a result of conflict.

ExampleA person is offered two different jobs. One of them pays pretty well, but it's very boring work. The other one doesn't pay well, but it's something that they really enjoy. Now a person has to make a decision between the two jobs.

Summary

In psychology, conflict is when a person has to decide between two opposing or incompatible actions, motives, or ideas. Conflict can be helpful, but it can also be stressful. There are three different types of conflict: approach approach conflict, avoidance avoidance conflict, and approach avoidance conflict.

Source: This work is adapted from Sophia Author Erick Taggart

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Ambivalence

    Mixed feelings about the situation.

  • Approach-Avoidance Conflict

    When a person both wants and doesn’t want a thing.

  • Avoidance-Avoidance Conflict

    When a person must choose between two things that he or she doesn’t want.

  • Approach-Approach Conflict

    When a person must choose between two things that he or she wants.