16.10.2020, 21:10

Causes and conditions for the emergence of interpersonal conflicts

Gultekin I. Ismailova
Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences,
Institute of Philosophy and Sociology
Department of Social Psychology,
Azerbaijan, Baku
e-mail: gulya.alibekova@rambler.ru

Interpersonal conflict is a clash of individuals in the process of their interaction. Such clashes can occur in a wide variety of spheres and areas of life (economic, political, sociocultural, etc.) and have different scales of mutual claims: from a place in public transport to a managerial chair in an institution; from a piece of bread to a multi-million state. In any interpersonal conflict, there are at least two participants and a certain specific situation in which the initial incident occurs and its consequences develop.
The subjects of interpersonal conflict are individuals protecting their personal or group interests. The object of conflict is incompatible needs, interests, values, positions, goals, etc. of interacting individuals. The exception is unrealistic (objectless) interpersonal conflicts in which the cause of the confrontation is the mental state of one, two or more subjects. In such a conflict, an incident is usually passed as the cause (object) of the conflict.
In an interpersonal conflict, it is not interests and desires that clash, but real individuals in regard to incompatible interests and desires. The clash of desires, aspirations, etc. is peculiar only within the intrapersonal conflict. Interpersonal conflict also suggests a real confrontation between the parties, and not only “mutual negative perceptions of people.” People can perceive each other very negatively, but not conflict. Only as a result of actions directed against each other, an interpersonal conflict arises. Thus, interpersonal conflict is a clash of two or more individuals, the reasons for which are incompatible needs, interests, values, roles, goals or means of achieving them. As in other social conflicts, in interpersonal can also be identified objective and subjective reasons. (Andreeva 2003)
Objective factors create a base for conflict emergence. It is also possible to consider conditionally objective the social relations that had developed at the time the conflict emerges between potential participants of the conflict, for example, their status and role positions. Objective reasons are those, the occurrence of which does not directly depend on the will and desire of a potential subject of interpersonal conflict.
Subjective factors in interpersonal conflict develop on the basis of individual (socio-psychological, physiological) characteristics of conflicting personalities. Interpersonal conflicts arise both between the first meeting and constantly communicating people. In both cases, an important role in relationships is played by interpersonal perception - perception, i.e. assessment and understanding of person by a person.

The structure of interpersonal perception

The process of interpersonal perception has a complex structure:
1) identification - comparison, contrast of a person and identification of himself/herself with him;
2) socio-psychological reflection - understanding of another by thinking for him;
3) empathy - understanding of another person through compassion;
4) stereotyping - the perception and evaluation of another person by spreading on him/her the qualitative characteristics of a social group. (Kozyrev 2008)
In social psychology, the process of reflection involves at least six positions characterizing the mutual reflection of the subjects: the subject himself, what he really is; the subject as he sees himself; the subject as he is seen by another. In the relationships of subjects, we have the same three positions on the part of another subject of reflection. The result is a process of doubled, mirror reflection by subjects of each other.Often the causes of interpersonal conflicts become a miscomprehension or misunderstanding of one person by another. This happens because of different ideas about the subject, fact, phenomenon.
In the interpersonal interaction an important role is played by the individual qualities of the opponents, their personal self-esteem, individual threshold of tolerance, aggressiveness, type of behavior, sociocultural differences, etc. There are the concepts of “interpersonal compatibility” and “interpersonal incompatibility” (Grishina 2008). Compatibility involves the mutual acceptance of communication partners and joint activities. Incompatibility - mutual rejection or antipathy of partners, based on the mismatch of value orientations, interests, motives, characters, temperaments, psychophysical reactions, individual psychological characteristics.
Sometimes interpersonal contradictions and conflicts are based on differences in individual biological rhythms. One type of people is more active in the morning. The peak of activity of another type of people falls in the afternoon. If each of these types does not take into account the features of the other, then their interaction threatens with various kinds of conflicts. Especially often, such conflicts occur between close people: spouses, relatives, friends, etc.
Interpersonal incompatibility can cause emotional conflict, i.e. psychological antagonism, which is the most complex and difficult to resolve form of interpersonal confrontation. The difficulty in resolving such a conflict lies in the fact that the real reason for the emergence of contradictions does not seem to exist and the conflict arises, as it were, for no apparent reason. The reason for such conflict is a negative mutual assessment and inadequate mutual empathy of opponents by each other.
In the development of interpersonal conflict, it is also necessary to take into account the impact of the surrounding social, socio-psychological environment. Interacting with other people, a person first of all protects his/her personal interests, and this is quite normal. The resulting conflicts are a reaction to obstacles to achieving goals. And the fact that the subject of the conflict seems to be significant for a particular individual will largely depend on its conflicting attitude - its disposition and willingness to act in a certain way in the alleged conflict. It includes goals, expectations and emotional orientation of the parties.
But individuals clash in interpersonal conflicts, protecting not only their personal interests. They can also represent the interests of individual groups, institutions, organizations, labor collectives, society as a whole. In such interpersonal conflicts, the form of struggle and the possibility of finding compromises are determined by the conflicting attitudes of those social groups whose representatives are the subjects of the conflict.
The conflict of psychological incompatibility is a negative mutual assessment and perception by opponents of each other. The danger of such a conflict lies in the fact that incompatibility may not express itself for a certain period of time in the relationships of individuals - exist at the subconscious level, but in a specific, difficult situation cause a fierce interpersonal conflict.

Types of interpersonal conflicts and psychological culture of communication

The most characteristic of interpersonal conflicts are the following types.
1. Incompatible needs, desires, interests, goals, values, etc.
2. Icompatible means of achieving common needs, interests, goals
3. Limited material resources (money, apartment).
4. Conflict of dominance is manifested in the desire of one subject to impose his will on another and the unwillingness of others to obey
5. Conflict of status positions - when individuals claim the same social status or inadequately assess the statuses held by opponents, for example, a child disputes the power of a parent, a citizen - power official.
6. Role conflicts can be divided into three subspecies:
- two or more individuals seek to fulfill the same role in a social group;
- Inadequate assessment of the role by another individual;
- The performance of two or more difficult incompatible roles.
7. A conflict of possession is most characteristic of individuals who are in close relationship with each other (friends, parents - children, spouses, lovers), when one or both persons want to individually own and dispose of the other
8. Conflict rivalry or competition occurs when two or more individuals compete with each other in any kind of activity, as well as in strength, wealth, intelligence, courage
9. Unrealistic conflict. As already mentioned above, such a conflict does not arise about some object, but because of the inadequate mental state of one or both of the subjects of the conflict. Here, conflict is not a means to achieving goals, but a goal itself. (Antsupov & Shipilov 2008)
Interpersonal conflicts cover almost all spheres of human relations. As a result any conflict comes down to interpersonal. Mastering the psychological culture of communication is associated with the need to master at least its three main components (skills): • to understand people, adequately assessing their behavior; • emotionally respond to their condition; • choose, in relation to each of them, such a method of treatment that does not diverge from the requirements of morality and meets their individual characteristics. In every culture, in every community of people there is a kind of “code” of approved models and rules of communication. For each type of communication and for each individual situation, a system of certain unwritten prohibitions and permits for the use of certain forms of behavior, methods of contacting each other has developed. But there are also universal rules, the observance of which is desirable and even necessary in any interpersonal situations. Their main meaning is to unite people, create a healthy social atmosphere and provide comfort in communication. In any communication, you should avoid such patterns of behavior that disconnect people, destroy their community. There are some of the most common moral rules, following which can help in a situation of any interpersonal interaction:
- avoid such forms of treatment that humiliate the opponent;
- not to allow forceful pressure or threats in communication;
- restrain manifestations of irritability in relation to others;
- avoid arrogance and demonstrative opposition to other people. (Ovsyannikov & Seriskova 2015)
The main sense of these rules is not to belittle the dignity of others, nor to create prerequisites for tension and discomfort. According to psychologists, after every minute of conflict showdowns, a much longer period of mental adaptation to new realities is required - from about six to twenty minutes, depending on the properties of temperament and the nature of the person. You can see the immediate causes and sources of interpersonal conflicts by addressing the basic needs of a person. This refers to the need for food, security, self-esteem, justice, kindness, etc. When they are suppressed or there is a threat to their satisfaction, tension builds up and conflicts arise between people.
The importance of a culture of human behavior is especially high in professional communication. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates noted that those who know how to deal with people conducts private and general affairs well and those who do not know how to do that make mistakes everywhere. Back in 1936, Dale Carnegie, a specialist in human relations, noted that the success of a business person and his financial well-being only 15% depend on the level of his professional qualifications and 85% on his ability to communicate with people.
In almost any pre-conflict situation, there is the possibility of a choice - a conflict or one of the non-conflict methods of resolving it. The manifestation of the personal causes of conflicts takes place both in the external environment of activity and in intra-system communication. In order to resolve the conflict, it is first necessary to analyze the conflict situation. This analysis includes the following areas: - finding out the causes, and not the causes of the conflict; - determination of the conflict zone, i.e. the inclusion of certain forces; -clarification of the motives for including people in the conflict. It should be remembered that the wording, explanation of the reasons may not coincide with the true motives. Conflict resolution may be complete and incomplete. Full resolution of the conflict is achieved by eliminating the causes, subject of the conflict and conflict situations. Incomplete conflict resolution occurs when not all causes or conflict situations are eliminated.
The basic models of personality behavior in a conflict situation are constructive, destructive, conformist. The constructive model seeks to resolve the conflict; aims to find an acceptable solution; distinguished by endurance and self-control, a friendly attitude to the opponent; open and sincere in communication. Destructive is constantly striving to expand and exacerbate the conflict; constantly belittles the partner, negatively evaluates his personality; shows suspicion and distrust of the opponent, violates the ethics of communication. Conformist model - passivity, tendency to make concessions; inconsistency in estimates, judgments, behavior; avoiding sensitive issues and personal responsibility.
Depending on the causes of the conflict, the interests and goals, the balance of opposing forces, the conflicting behavior of the parties, an interpersonal conflict can have the following outcomes:
1. Avoiding the resolution of the conflict when one of the parties does not seem to notice the contradictions that have arisen. Such behavior can be associated either with a clear superiority in the strength of one of the parties, or with the fact that at the moment there are not enough opportunities to resolve the contradictions that have arisen;
2. Mitigation of contradictions when one of the parties either agrees with the claims presented to it (but only at the moment), or seeks to justify itself. Such behavior may be due to either the desire to maintain normal relations, or the fact that the subject of the dispute is not significant for one of the parties;
3. Compromise - mutual concessions on both sides, the size of the concessions depends on the ratio of opposing forces;
4. Consensus - finding a mutually acceptable solution to a problem. With this option, the parties can turn from opponents into partners and allies;
5. The escalation of tension and the escalation of the conflict into a comprehensive confrontation: mutual readiness for an uncompromising struggle;
6. the power version of the suppression of the conflict, when one or both parties are forced to accept by force one or another version of the outcome of the contradiction. Thus, in order to identify the causes of conflicts, a comprehensive analysis of the actions, positions and psychological characteristics of its participants, as well as the circumstances that arise in the situation of their interaction, is needed. Conflict-free interaction, analysis of conflicts, their causes, varieties and patterns of manifestation, helps to more competently solve the problems of forecasting and prevention of conflict situations, to choose adequate methods and techniques for practical resolution and resolution of conflicts.

In this article, the objective and subjective causes of interpersonal conflicts in various fields of life are described. The characteristic features of the process of interpersonal communication and the main models of personality behaviour in a conflict situation are identified and described. The idea is substantiated that the analysis of conflicts, causes and characteristics of their emergence helps to successfully resolve issues of forecasting and prevention of conflict situations.
Key words: conflict, interpersonal communication, psychological incompatibility, behavior patterns


1. Andreeva G.M. (2003) Social Psychology - Aspect Press, Voronezh
2. Antsupov A.J., Shipilov A.I. (2008) Conflict - SPb: Peter.
3. Barki, Hahartwick, J. (2004). Conceptualizing the Construct of Interpersonal Conflict.
International Journal of Conflict Management 15 (3), 216
4. Bodtker, A. M., & Jameson, J. K. (2001). Emotion in Conflict Formation and Its Transformation: Application to Organiza-tional Conflict Management. International Journal of Conflict Management, 12, 259-275.
5. Dirks, K.T. & Parks, J.M. (2003). Conflicting Stories: The State of the Science of Conflict: In J.Greenberg (Ed.), Organizational Behaviour: The State of Science. Hillsdate, NJ: Lawrence Earbanm Associates
6. Deutsch, M., Coleman, P., & Marcus, E. C. (Eds.). (2007). Handbook of conflict resolution (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
7. Deutsch, M. (2002). Social psychology’s contributions to the study of conflict resolution. Negotiation Journal, 18(4), 307–320.
8. Jehn, K. A., & Bendersky, C. (2003). Intragroup Conflict in Organizations: A Contingency Perspective on the Conflict- Outcome Relationship. Research in Organizational Behavior, 25, 187-242.
9. Grishina N. V. (2008) Psychology of Conflict. And additional. - SPb.: Peter,. - 544 p.
10. Ovsyannikov E.A., Seriskova A. A.. (2015) Electronic publication on the basis of: Conflict [Electronic resource]: training. Manual/- M.: FLINT,.-335 p.- ISBN 978-5-9765-2218-3
11. Kozyrev G. I. (2008) Political Conflict: Tutorial. - Moscow: ID "FORUM": INFRA-M. - 432 p. - (Higher education)...