Online College Courses for Credit

4 Tutorials that teach Identity & Conflict
Take your pick:
Identity & Conflict

Identity & Conflict

Author: marlene johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand that identity is a major source of conflict

See More
Fast, Free College Credit

Developing Effective Teams

Let's Ride
*No strings attached. This college course is 100% free and is worth 1 semester credit.

29 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

310 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 27 of Sophia’s online courses. Many different colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.


Identity and Conflict

Video Transcription

Download PDF

Know Thyself. Socrates, an ancient Greek philosopher said this over 2,500 years ago, Know thyself to be wise. And wise people are still saying that today. It's important that we know ourselves. That we come to reflect on our identities, our sense of self, what makes us tick.

Well, I'm Marlene Johnson, and in this tutorial today I'd like to take up that question of identity. Specifically, I'd like to look at how identity, our very sense of self influences conflict, and at times might even become a source of conflict.

So, identity. Let's take a look at identity. Identity is a person's sense of self. It's the way an individual defines himself or herself. Now, we all define ourselves in a number of ways. There are many factors that go into

our self definition. Some things are obvious. There's gender. There's race. There's the family of origin we grew up in, the part of the country. Do we come from a large family, a small family. Did we grow up in the country? Did we grow up in the city? Midwest, east coast, west coast. Where we come from influences our sense of self. As we grow older and have experiences, we go to school. We get the input of teachers. The input even of our own peers. In fact, the influence of peer groups. All of this influences how we see ourselves, and how we define ourselves.

Now, how we respond, particularly in conflict situations is influenced by this sense of identity. For example, you may hear people say, I wasn't raised to act like that. That's not the way we do things around here. Phrases like that reflect that we are identifying with particular groups, and identifying with a particular group. It influences the way we might behave towards other people that maybe aren't part of that group.

So, let's take a moment here and look at how a sense of group influences identity, and how it can influence conflict, and how we behave in conflict. So, we're gonna look at groups in two ways. First of all, there's In-Group. So, we have In-Group here. Now, an In-Group is the group in which a given person defines herself or himself as a member.

We all define ourselves as members of groups. Members of perhaps churches, synagogues, mosques, members of political parties. We could be Democrat, we could be Republican, we could be Independent. So, we have these group identifications. We identify with maybe clubs and organizations that we're apart of. So, that would be the way we would consider ourselves to be part of an In-Group. Others who are part of that same group, we feel like we share certain values. We may behave in a certain way because we are all part of that same group.

However, then there's the Out-Group. An Out-Group is the group in which a given person does not define himself or herself as a member. So, for example, if you define yourself in terms of a particular political party. Someone of the opposite political party could be perceived as the Out-Group. And if we have negative assumptions about those in the other group, that could lead to conflict. I think we see this in schools, where we have heard a lot about bullying. You may have a particular peer group.

A group that's considered the popular group, and students who are not part of that group maybe bullied. They're considered a part of the Out-Group. There may be negative assumptions about them. We often will use labels if we're talking about another group, the out group that we don't identify with. You might call someone a nerd or a geek. These are words that might be describing somebody in a situation where there's bullying.

After 9/11, in this country, there were a lot of negative perceptions about people who are Muslims, or people in the mid-eastern background. And people who held those negative assumptions, would oftentimes apply them to the entire group, and that could lead to conflict. And of course the negative assumptions would be based on just the actions of a few, but they get applied to everyone.

Then there are as I mentioned, our political parties in this country right now. We have red states, blue states, conflict based on people's perception of the other political party. So in, summary I think it's important to realize that we all have identities that we share, that come from factors that influence us, as we're growing up. And how we see ourselves, and the groups that we belong to really influence our identities.

Now, conflict can happen when we see ourselves as distinct and from another group that we would label as an Out-Group, and when we see that group as different, and we have negative assumptions about that group. It can lead to conflict So, thank you for joining me in this tutorial. I hope to see you next time. Thank you.

Terms to Know

A person's sense of self; the way an individual defines himself or herself.


The group in which a given person defines herself or himself as a member.


The group in which a given person does not define himself or herself as a member.