Attitude and Group Conflicts: the Nigerian Experience

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E. B. MAMMAN
DEPARTMENT OF RESEARCH AND POLICY ANALYSIS
INSTITUTE FOR PEACE AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION (IPCR), ABUJA

Being a Presentation at the Institute’s In-House Seminar
22ND, July 2010

                    ABSTRACT Attitudes are our beliefs and feelings about people, places and things. With attitudes we can like or dislike people and we can be positive or negative in our approach and in our feelings.

Attitudes come from real and fictional heroes and mentors and from life experience. They range from minor to explosive, depending on the context and behaviours and social reactions they cause. Attitudes may be rational or based on hearsay and faith.

Attitudes can be good or bad; right or wrong; nice or not nice; desirable or undesirable; safe or harmful; healthy or toxic; normal or abnormal; and compatible or incompatible etc. It is in the human nature to observe, conclude and create attitudes, and once attitudes become incompatible, conflict results

This paper therefore examines the concept of attitude as a psycho-social construct which determines the behaviour and thinking of people about various issues affecting human life. In the attempt to explain why people behave the way they do, conceptual issues such as attitude function; prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination; group conflict theory, behaviour and relations were discussed.

It is the perception of the paper that the current level of group conflicts, manifesting in ethnic, political, religious, land and/or boundary crisis etc, and which has become a subject of much discourse at different fora is a direct fall-out of the wrong attitudes of Nigerians to issues

The quest for a change in attitude therefore presents an appeal to our worldview, seeing that we live in a world of differences: different people, different cultures, and different opinions.

ATTITUDE AND GROUP CONFLICTS: THE NIGERIAN EXPERINCE
Whence come wars and fightings among you?
Come they not hence, even of your lusts
that war in your members, (James Chapter 4 verse 1)
1. Introduction
The concept of conflict has been an object of analysis in diverse studies. Behavioural scholars have observed that for every conflict situation, there are bound to be conflict indicators and triggers. However, the main stream of conflict management literature has not concentrated much on what causes conflicts and what environments may trigger them as to the process of conflicts and the means to resolve them (Deutch, 1990; Thomas, 1991; Wall & Callister, 1995). Researchers have concentrated so much on ways of resolving conflicts such as negotiation and mediation as effective and ineffective means, as the case may be (Neale & Bazerman, 1991; Carnevale & Pruitt, 1992; Thomas, 1991) to the detriment of issues that may cause conflicts.

After a review of literature, it has been discovered that a very important socio-psychological concept has not been given adequate attention in the study of group conflicts. This important concept is human attitude. We all know that attitude, especially attitude difference, can cause social conflicts.

Different attitudes toward the same issue can lead to conflicts between individuals, groups, organizations, or even countries. For example, different attitudes toward marriage could lead to the breakup of a family; different attitudes toward the issue of religion have caused many serious debates or even bloody fighting between religious groups; and different attitudes toward social institutions once separated the world into two camps – communism and capitalism. (Yan, 2010)

Attitude is a very important construct in social psychology. It is often defined as a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor (Yan, 2010). It is...
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