Inter-Group Conflict

The nature of the relationship between groups also changes markedly during inter group conflicts. Four changes in particular occur at this time.
1. There are distortions of perception, both one’s own group and about the other group. First, perception of one’s own group is highly selective: people see only the best aspects of their own group and deny any weakness in their own group’s performance. Second, and more important, perception of the other groups is systematically distorted: groups see only the worst parts of other groups and deny other groups positive accomplishments. Thus, inter group conflict leads to increased use of stereotypes. Each group develops more positive stereotype of itself and a more negative of other.

2. Interaction and communication between groups decreased. Because group members feel hostile toward members of rival groups, there is less desire for interaction with them. Moreover, decreased interaction makes it easier for each group to maintain its negative stereotype of the other.

Even when groups are forced to interact with each other, those interactions become fairly rigid and formal. Whatever information is passed between groups is very carefully rationed and sometimes deliberately distorted. Groups tend to ignore the similarities between their positions and exaggerate the differences.

3. There is a shift from problem-solving orientation toward other groups to win lose orientation. There various facts to this shift in orientation. First, there is a much clearer distinction drawn between the groups, resulting in a “We- they” rather than a “We- versus” – the problem orientation. Second, all exchange with the other groups are evaluated in terms of victory or defeat. Third, the groups tend to see the problem only from their own point of view, rather than in terms of the needs of both groups. Fourth, the parties emphasize the benefits of winning the conflict in the short run and tend to ignore the long-term consequences of the conflict for the relationship between the groups.

4. There is increased hostility toward the rival group. As a result of negative stereotyping, decreased communication between groups, and win lose orientation, increased hostility inevitably occur between rival groups. Members of the other group are seen as the enemy, and deserving of hostile attacks. Major types of inter-group conflict are follows:
  • a) Functional conflict: Conflict that supports the goals of the groups and improve its performance.
  • b) Dys-functional conflicts: Conflict that hinders group performance.
  • c) Task conflict: Conflict based on interpersonal relationships.
  • d) Process conflict: Conflicts over how work gets done.

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