What Is Role Conflict? - Definition, Types & Examples

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  • 0:01 What Is Role Conflict?
  • 0:56 Types
  • 2:17 Consequences
  • 2:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Deborah Teasley

Deborah has 4 years of teaching experience and a master's degree in program development & management.

Does the amount of time you spend at work or school prevent you from spending time with your family? In this lesson, we will look at how the different roles we play in life sometimes contradict one another.

What is Role Conflict?

Steven's son, Joe, has taken an interest in Little League baseball. In an attempt to spend more time with his son and bond over a common hobby, Steven has decided to coach his son's Little League team. He knows that with more experience Joe could be a very talented pitcher. However, at this point in time he's not as skilled as the other pitcher they have on their team. Steven really wants his son to play in the game, but knows that the other little boy is a better option if he wants his team to win. What should he do?

Steven is experiencing something known as a role conflict. A role conflict is when a person is expected to fulfill the duties of two contradictory positions. In Steven's case, he is both a dad and a coach. As a father, he wants to see his son participate in the baseball game no matter how good or bad his skills are. As a coach, he has to do what's best for the team. This means he must put in players that are talented and will help the team win the game.

Types of Role Conflicts

There are two types of role conflicts. The first is known as intra-role conflict, which is when there are incompatible components within the same role. Let's use Lexy as an example. Lexy is a school teacher who wants to be liked by her students. She's noticed that when she has a good rapport with her students they participate more in class and trust her. This makes teaching much more fun and interesting for her.

Unfortunately, since she is the teacher she also has to incorporate discipline and rules into her classroom. Without them, the students would never take her seriously or hand in any of their work. In her role as a teacher, Lexy has to walk the line between being friendly and open as well as authoritative.

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