Role strain occurs when a person has difficulty meeting the responsibilities of a particular role in his or her life. Role conflict is when a person has contradictions between roles corresponding to two or more statuses.


Regulatory requirements related to the social role, as a rule, are more or less known to the participants of role interaction and generate corresponding role expectations. All participants of the interaction expect from each other behavior that fits into the context of social roles. However, the social role is considered not only in aspects of role expectation but also in role execution, i.e., of how the individual actually fulfills his or her role. The extent to which the one executes an expected behavior determines his or her status in a social structure.

In general, there is never an identity relationship between social and role norms. Society imposes a social role on a person, but its acceptance, rejection, and fulfillment always leave their mark on a person’s real behavior. Role conflicts arise when different social roles, the carrier of which is the individual, contain incompatible prescriptions (requirements). For example, a woman performs her role well in production, but at home, she does not succeed in playing the role of wife and mother. Then, in a situation where the husband’s parents do not like the wife, his filial duty conflicts with the husband’s duties. Role strain takes place when a social role implies the presence of complex relationships and conflicting social expectations. There are conflicts of interest within many social roles; for instance, the requirement to be honest with people is in conflict with the desire to make money.