Three types of conflicts are: 1. Intrapersonal Conflicts, 2. Interpersonal Conflicts and 3. Unconscious Conflicts.
The word conflict has been derived from a Latin word ‘Conflicts’ which means ‘strike two things at the same time’.
Conflict is an opposition or a tug-of-war between contradictory impulses. According to Colman ‘A conflict is the anticipated frustration entailed in the choice of either alternative’. Conflicts occur in the individual when more than one, equally powerful desires or motives present at the same time and pressurize for immediate satisfaction.
If any one of the motive is weak, it will be suppressed and the stronger motive gains satisfaction. Conflicts give rise to a lot of tension in the individual, he becomes completely disturbed. Tension continues until a decision is taken and conflict is resolved.
In total conflict may be a friction between two desires, motives, needs or values, finally the stronger one will take upper hand. Sometimes, when he cannot resolve the conflicts, the individual will be put into severe consequences, which he cannot withstand and try to escape from the field itself through unhealthy means.
1. Types of Conflicts:
There are different types of conflicts. Very common among them are:
a) Intrapersonal or Goal conflicts b) Interpersonal conflicts,
a. Intrapersonal conflicts:
These are the conflicts caused within the individual. These conflicts arise as a result of two or more motives or goals to be achieved at a time. Hence, these are called goal conflicts. Lewin has described three types of goal conflicts.
However, in addition to these there is one more conflict in which the individual faces more than one attracting or repelling forces making the individual to experience more stress.
This is called multiple approach avoidance conflict. These are as follows:
1. Approach-approach conflict:
In this type of conflict individual will have two desires with positive valence which are equally powerful. For example, a person has two attractive job offers and he has to choose any one of them- tension arises.
Such conflicts are not so harmful, because after selecting one, the other one automatically subsides or loses its importance to him. But in some situation choice will be very difficult. For example, a girl has to choose either loving parents or a boy friend for inter-caste marriage. Such cases are like ‘you cannot have the cake and eat it too’.
The individual will be psychologically torn and may lose equilibrium. This type of conflict is diagrammatically represented in Figure 4.3.
2. Avoidance-avoidance conflict:
This conflict involves two goals with negative valence. At times the individual is forced to choose one among two negative goals. In such conflicts, both are unwanted goals, but he cannot keep quiet without opting also. For example, a woman must work at a job which she dislikes very much or else she has to remain unemployed.
Here the individual is caught between two repelling threats, fears or situations. When she cannot choose either of them she may try to escape from the field itself. But the consequences of the escape may also be harmful. For example, a person who cannot convince the mother or the wife may resort to Alcohol consumption which is otherwise dangerous or some people may even commit suicide. Such type of conflict is diagrammatically represented in Figure 4.4.
In the event of such conflicts when there is no way to escape- some people may find a way to reduce their tension by developing ‘amnesia’ or defence mechanisms like regression or fantasy.
3. Approach-avoidance conflict:
This is also a most complex conflict and very difficult to resolve. Because in this type of conflict a person is both attracted and repelled by the same goal object. Here the goal object will have both positive and negative valences.
The positive valence attracts the person, but as he approaches, the negative valence repels him back. Attraction of the goal and inability to approach it leads to frustration and tension.
For example, a person is approaching to accept a job offer, because the salary is attractive- but at the same time he is repelled back as the job is very risky. A man wants to marry to lead a family life, but does not want the responsibilities of family life. This type of conflict is diagrammatically represented in Figure 4.5.
4. Multiple-approach-avoidance conflict:
Some of the situations in life we come across will involve both positive and negative valences of multiple nature. Suppose a woman is engaged to be married. The marriage to her has positive valences like-providing security to life and marrying a person whom she loves very much.
Suppose, on the other hand, if the marriage is repellent to her because she has to quit her attractive job and salary, recognition which makes her dependent, the situation builds up tension in her.
The resolution of this conflict depends upon the sum total of both valences. If the sum total of attractive valence takes upper hand, she will quit the job and go for marriage; otherwise she may reject marriage and continue the job if the sum total of negative valence is powerful. This type of conflict is shown diagrammatically in Figure 4.6.
2. Resolution of Conflicts:
The conflicts may arise from frustrations, competing roles or goals having positive or negative valences. Some conflicts are of great danger to mental health of the individual. Hence, it is necessary to resolve them as quickly as possible.
Otherwise, they may be carried on to the unconscious level, resulting in psychological problems and psychosomatic disorders. The clash between the urges, desires and motives may go on without being fully aware of it. These forces may disturb the individual causing lot of mental turmoil.
Conflicts resolution depends upon the type of conflict. The double approach conflict may be easily resolved by satisfying first one goal which is more important than the other; for instance, a student attending the class first, then going for food even if hungry.
Alternatively, this conflict is resolved by giving up one of the goals. Obviously, approach-approach conflict does not generate much anxiety, because the individual is not going to lose much.
The double avoidance conflict is more complex. Since the individual does not want either of the goals, he experiences more repelling effect as he moves near one goal by rejecting the other. Finally when it is unbearable, the individual tries to leave the conflict situation, but the other factors in periphery of the situation makes it difficult.
For example, a student who cannot face examination or failure may try to rim away from home, but the love and affection of the parents or financial problems may prevent him from doing so. Some people may resort to other means to get relief from tension, such as day dreaming, taking alcohol, chain smoking, suicide, etc. Totally avoidance by some means is the goal of the individual.
In approach-avoidance conflict, since there is only one goal object, it is very difficult to decide. Here, compromise with the situation is the only alternative solution to overcome stress resulting from conflict.
Finally, in multiple approach-avoidance conflict the individual has to take a decision depending upon the sum total of positive or negative valences resulting in selection of goals.
Though these are the coping strategies at individual level, people facing conflicts may help themselves by examining the causes of conflicts clearly, trying to choose the best alternative, early decision making, etc.
They have to make use of their creative thinking, divergent reasoning and proper perception of the situations. Motives may influence our behaviour, but the individual should not be the slave of his motives, instead he should be the master of his motives, so that he can have control over them. Finally taking advice from parents, elders, teachers and counsellors will be of great help to cope with and to resolve conflicts,
b. Interpersonal conflicts:
Interpersonal conflict is caused between individuals. This can be resolved through some strategies such as avoiding, smoothing, forcing, confronting and compromising. Assertive behaviour and I am ok, you are ok interpersonal orientation help to resolve such conflicts easily.
3. Unconscious Conflict:
The mental conflict below the level of conscious awareness is called unconscious conflict. The conflicts in conscious level, when repressed, shifts to unconscious. Here the desires which cannot be satisfied at conscious level are repressed to unconscious level as a mechanism of escaping. Many of our wants raised by Id may not be socially acceptable. Such wants are objected by the Ego and the Super ego. Hence these are repressed to unconscious.
The repressed desires or wishes remain active in the unconscious part of our mind. They slowly gather strength by making alliance with other similar experiences and become stronger. This group of repressed wants which is working for the satisfaction try to come back to the conscious. This process is called complex. As soon as complexes are formed they give rise to conflicts in the unconscious.
They try to come back to conscious, but prevented by censor or preconscious. So they try to enter the conscious level when censor is at rest or sleep. They may appear in the form of dreams, slip of tongue, slip of pen, motivated forgetting, etc. Sometimes they may appear in the form of peculiar behavior and mannerisms.