Definition of Intergroup Conflict

Written by myriam beltran
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Definition of Intergroup Conflict
Disagreement in varying degrees between two groups is called intergroup conflict. (out of focus leisure image by Robert Kelly from

Intergroup conflict can take many forms, ranging from a disagreement with the neighbours to a full-out war between countries. Though consequences vary, the cause of intergroup conflict usually stems from a few basic principles.

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Social Psychology

In the discipline of social psychology, intergroup conflict is defined as an incompatibility of goals, beliefs, attitudes or behaviours, according to Richard D. Ashmore in "Social Identity, Intergroup Conflict and Conflict Reduction."

Sources of Conflict

Common incompatibilities between groups that cause intergroup conflict include power, economic and value differences, according to Morton Deutsch, author of "The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice." Economic conflict is competition for resources. In power conflicts, groups fight for dominance over one another. Value conflicts involve disagreement between groups' beliefs or lifestyles.


The construction of social identities classifying people into "us" and "them" contributes to the formation of intergroup conflict. Such conflict can grow from stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination. In extreme cases, the result of prejudices has led to genocide and the launching of global war.

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