Reinhard to Speak on Rivalry, Self and Large-Scale Conflict

David Reinhard
David Reinhard

David Reinhard, a postdoctoral research associate in the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program, will speak on “The rival within: Rivals as part of the self and social identity” on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 4 p.m. in Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall East.

The talk is sponsored by the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program Interdisciplinary Seminar on Conflict and Violence, which 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.

Reinhard is funded by National Science Foundation grant awarded to program faculty member Bernhard Leidner that examines the consequences of past collective trauma on intergroup relations. Reinhard’s 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).

According to Reinhard, 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. He will discuss a new theoretical perspective on in-group identity contending that rival outgroups are incorporated into people’s image of the self and the social groups they belong to. As such, 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 or psychological needs 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.

The program is open to all. Refreshments will be served.