The Social Psychology of Intergroup and International by Ronald J. Fisher (auth.)

By Ronald J. Fisher (auth.)

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Another reason is that people seem to prefer information that confirms that they are similar to other members of their own group and different from members of an outgroup resulting in selective attention to within-group similarities and betweengroup differences (Wilder & Allen, 1978). One issue that is still a source of some controversy is whether the out-group is perceived to be more homogeneous than the in-group. Intuitively, one would suppose that greater familiarity and knowledge of the in-group would make this hypothesis an obvious one.

However, none can do total justice to the complexity of social life. As Mack and Snyder (1957) point out: Most social scientists now accept the principle of multiple causality; hence there is no one basic source of conflict. In view of the preoccupation with the evil consequences of conflict, it is not surprising that the literature on causation overbalances the rest. Indeed, so far as particular areas of conflict are concerned, underlying sources have been rather thoroughly catalogued. It is fairly easy merely to list the most significant sources of, say, war.

Conflict, on the other hand, is much more likely to be a "no holds barred" interaction with mutually destructive behaviors as its hallmark, the objective being the injury of the opponent as much as or more than the attainment of a scarce resource. Unfortunately, as the review by Fink (1968) makes clear, the distinction is not so simple, because the shifting conceptual boundaries between conflict and competition illustrate numerous choices that have been made differently by various theorists. Some adopt a broad definition of competition in which conflict becomes a special case, whereas others see competition and conflict as synonymous.

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