What Are the Causes of Conflict?

Conflict is an interaction between people who are different and may have opposing views or goals. It can range from a minor disagreement to an all-out fight. A conflict can be resolved through facilitated dialogue, mediation and problem-solving techniques that promote open communication, active listening, and an exploration of alternative solutions.

Conflicts can occur between individuals, groups or even nations. They are usually fueled by the desire to achieve a goal in a competitive way and often result in misunderstandings, hostilities and even violence. The causes of a conflict are complex and include underlying beliefs, resentments, emotions and perceived injustices. It can take a long time for a conflict to be fully worked out.

In fiction, conflicts are a staple of story-telling because they are what makes characters interesting. A character’s belief systems, wants and goals are constantly being thwarted or challenged by the world around them. Conflict shows us how the character deals with these obstacles and enables us to see another worldview through their eyes.

Generally, conflict occurs when two parties or groups of individuals interact in an environment where their needs, goals and abilities are not aligned. These differences can be based on a number of factors including differing opinions, personality traits, backgrounds and temperaments. The most common causes of conflict are incompatible goals and lack of resources.

Another cause is the presence of an aggravating condition that intensifies conflict and makes it more difficult to resolve. These conditions are usually triggered by a particular event or by someone in power who seeks to capitalize on it for their own political agenda. Examples of this include the intervention of a large power by one or more small powers in an existing conflict that threatens their territorial integrity and status quo. The presence of an aggravating condition is also a major reason why a conflict turns into a war and then becomes protracted.

A third cause of conflict is a clash of values and a perception of unfairness. This can occur when a party perceives that the other party has values, intentions and behaviors that are in direct opposition to their own. This can be exacerbated when the other party is not only aware of these beliefs but actively promotes them.

Finally, a fourth cause of conflict is cultural and societal factors that make some people more susceptible to conflict than others. These can be a variety of things including differences in culture, language, religion, educational background and outlook. For example, Mike and Jason both believe that the glass is half full but they see it differently based on their backgrounds, awareness and disposition. If they are not careful, their misunderstandings might lead to a major conflict. Similarly, if Jenny tells Ali that her presentation is lacking content, it might hurt his ego and trigger a conflict between them. This is because they are from different cultural backgrounds and are in a different mindset.