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Posted on September 20th, 2012, by

Conflicts are a characteristic of human relations since they are practically inevitable in human life. In such a situation, it is important to be able to cope with conflicts and behave effectively in a conflict situation. On the other hand, it is necessary to understand that a motivation can play a significant role in conflicts.

In fact, the role of motivation can be determinant in conflicts because, to start a conflict, it is necessary to have a motif. In other words, a conflict cannot be unmotivated. In this respect, it should be said that there are various motivation theories. For instance, the utilitarian interpretation of the motivation heavily relies on the idea of utility as the cornerstone of the utilitarianism. In other words, the motivation is defined by individual’s needs and interests, which are prior to all other factors that can motivate him/her. To put it more precisely, the utilitarian approach to the motivation stands on the ground that people are more likely to get motivated to do some actions, for instance, when they get some benefits from it and, on the contrary, the risk of losses or some harm that may be caused by these actions is an important factor that decreases considerably the motivation of an individual.

It should be pointed out that the utilitarian approach to the motivation heavily relies on the rationalism of an individual since, in terms of this theory, human actions are determined by their utility or profitability. This means that it is only a perspective of some benefits that can really motivate a person, but, on the other hand, such a utilitarian view implies that an individual should evaluate carefully all his/her action and motivation is also rationally justified and evaluated because it is on the basis of the racial judgment an individual can get either motivated or non-motivated to take an action. At first glance, such an approach seems to be logical and quite convincing, but, in actuality, it proves to be rather naïve because such a view on the motivation means that people are unable to spontaneous actions (Austin et al, 1990).

In other words, the motivation is rather a rational act than a spontaneous or unplanned act. Therefore, if a person starts conflict, he wants to achieve certain goals and if his opponent is able to understand these goals he can avoid the conflict.

Basically, such a utilitarian point of view contradicts to the position of David Hume, who, in contrast, stood on the ground that the motivation is not a product of human rationalism. Moreover, he laid emphasis on the fact that people cannot make their judgments and get motivated on the basis of the reason solely. Instead, he admits the possibility of the significant impact of the sympathy to other people that, according to the philosopher, can be a strong motivating factor. In fact, David Hume develops his sentiment-based theory in terms of which the motivation is mainly based on sentiments instead of reason and rationalism. Consequently, the philosopher defends the possibility of the non-utilitarian motivation, which rather refers to the sphere of sentiments and emotions than to the sphere of reason and logic. It is worth mentioning the fact that such a view on the motivation is quite original and opposes many other theories. In this respect, it is possible to name not only the utilitarian theory but also the psychological egoism. Unlike the supporters of the psychological egoism, such as Joseph Butler, David Hume does not admit the possibility of making moral judgments and, therefore, motivation, on the basis of self-interest alone (Benfari, 1999). On the other hand, he does not fully deny the importance of self-interest as an important part of the motivation, but he suggests a larger view on the motivation that also includes the possibility of the impact of sympathy to other people on the motivation. In such a context, conflicts seem to be caused by emotional problems and, therefore, they can be solved by means of rationalizing causes of the conflict, which can reveal that the conflict is illogical and provoked by strong emotions only.

At the same time, it is possible to apply different strategies of conflict management. In actuality, in order to choose the most effective strategy, it is necessary to adequately assess the situation, the essence of the conflict and its causes. For instance, often people use the avoidance strategy, especially if they see that a person, who initiates the conflict, behaves aggressively. On the other hand, it is possible to accept the challenge and use the rationalization strategy to convince the opponent that the conflict is actually useless and it cannot solve the problem which actually caused the conflict. In such a way, it is possible to convince the opponent that a conflict is useless.

Thus, it is obvious that conflicts often occur in human life and there exist various strategies of conflict management. However, it is important to remember about the motivation as an important factor which can both accelerate conflict and solve conflicts if either opponent can undermine the motivation of his counterpart.

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