Definition: Role conflict occurs when people are confronted with incompatible role expectations in the various social statuses they occupy. Role conflict can take several different forms. When the roles are associated with two different statuses, the result is known as status strain. When the conflicting roles are both associated with the same status, the result is known as role strain. Conflict may also occur when people disagree about what the expectations are for a particular role or when someone simply has difficulty satisfying expectations because their duties are unclear, too difficult, or disagreeable.
A parent may feel conflicting obligations to employers who demand full devotion to the job and children who need to be cared for when they are sick (status strain).