Talk: The Rival Within: Rivals as Part of the Self and Social Identity

Event Details

November 27, 2018
4:00 pm-5:00 pm

Commonwealth Honors College

Room: Events Hall East

UMass Amherst Campus

Handicap access available
Debbie Weyl

The Psychology of Peace and Violence Program Interdisciplinary Seminar on Conflict and Violence is designed to promote interdisciplinary exchanges among faculty and students interested in the topics of conflict, violence, and peace, from a wide range of departments across campus.

Dr. David Reinhard is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program at UMass Amherst. He is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, awarded to program faculty member Dr. Bernhard Leidner, that examines the consequences of past collective trauma on intergroup relations in the present. His research also examines how shared competitive (and cooperative) histories influence the way people think about and pursue their goals, exploring competitive histories in intergroup and interpersonal conflicts (by contrasting rivalry from mere competition) and cooperative histories in intragroup alliances (by examining intergenerational group identities. His research received funding from the American Psychological Association (APA), Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), and Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). He has published in scientific journals such as Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Science.

Abstract: While competition refers to a single instance of parties having negatively linked goals, rivalry is a subjective competitive relationship based on a shared history of notable competitions. Dr. Reinhard will discuss a new theoretical perspective on ingroup identity contending that rival (vs. non-rival) outgroups are incorporated into people’s image of the self and the social groups they belong to. As such, in a rather paradoxical and perhaps controversial way, people may be hesitant to let go of conflicts with rivals, as letting go of the rivalry would mean to let go of part of the self and social identity, thereby perpetuating the cycle of violence. 

While existing theories and models of large-scale conflict are based on the core assumption that groups engage in conflict because their material (e.g., resources) or psychological needs (e.g., safety) are frustrated, this perspective provides a fundamentally different explanation for why conflict exists, the psychological functions it serves, and why it is very difficult to resolve. Recent empirical work and implications for conflict resolution are discussed.

Refreshments will be served.  Open to all.

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