Conflict is a state of discord caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and
interests. A conflict can be internal (within oneself) or external (between two or more
individuals). Conflict as a concept can help explain many aspects of social life such as social
disagreement, conflicts of interests, and fights between individuals, groups, or organizations. In
political terms, “conflict” can refer to wars, revolutions or other struggles, which may involve
the use of force as in the term armed conflict. Without proper social arrangement or resolution,
conflicts in social settings can result in stress or tensions among stakeholders. When an
interpersonal conflict does occur, its effect is often broader than two individuals involved, and
can affect many associate individuals and relationships, in more or less adverse and sometimes
even humorous way.
Conflict as taught for graduate and professional work in conflict resolution (which can be win-
win, where both parties get what they want, win-lose where one party gets what they want, or
lose-lose where both parties don’t get what they want) commonly has the definition: “when two
or more parties, with perceived incompatible goals, seek to undermine each other’s goal-seeking
One should not confuse the distinction between the presence and absence of conflict with the
difference between competition and co-operation. In competitive situations, the two or more
individuals or parties each have mutually inconsistent goals; either party tries to reach their
goal it will undermine the attempts of the other to reach theirs. Therefore, competitive
situations will, by their nature, cause conflict. However, conflict can also occur in cooperative
situations, in which two or more individuals or parties have consistent goals, because the
manner in which one party tries to reach their goal can still undermine the other individual or
A clash of interests, values, actions or directions often sparks a conflict. Conflicts refer to the
existence of that clash. Psychologically, a conflict exists when the reduction of one motivating
stimulus involves an increase in another, so that a new adjustment is demanded. The word is
applicable from the instant that the clash occurs. Even when we say that there is a potential
conflict we are implying that there is already a conflict of direction even though a clash may
not yet have occurred.

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