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Creative Tension
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7 Examples of Social Tension

Social tension is pressure or stress that is felt in a social situation. This is an inherent part of social interaction that is healthy where it remains civil and productive. The following are illustrative examples of social tension.


Nervousness and fear that can surround social processes such as public speaking or meeting new people. This is typically mild and can increase your alertness such that it potentially benefits performance. Overcoming fears also adds to the sense of accomplishment in social situations whereby the relief of performing under pressure creates a sense of joy.


Conveying negative feedback creates tension whereby both sides may feel pressure or stress. This is nonetheless an important process that helps individuals to improve and groups to thrive with high creativity and productivity.

Group Harmony

The opposite of social tension is group harmony whereby groups prioritize the avoidance of pressure or stress over critical thinking, improvement and change. This is likely to produce mediocrity and complacency.

Creative Tension

Creative tension is the process of purposely creating tension in order to push for change or create the conditions necessary for creativity and productivity.

Debate & Argument

The process of debate, arguing and persuasion tends to generate social tension. A group that supports free speech, candor and open discussion embraces social tension. Groups may try to reduce or eliminate social tension with groupthink and other processes that reduce candor to produce group cohesion and harmony.

Political Tension

Politics is the process by which groups make decisions. This is a natural venue for creative tension, criticism and debate whereby tensions are normal and healthy. A political process devoid of tension would be likely to produce highly irrational decisions such as the abilene paradox. Excessive tension such as political polarization can also produce irrational group decisions.

Social Conflict & Incivility

Social tension that crosses into conflict and incivility is a negative thing as cooperation completely breaks down such that tension no longer benefits the group but rather fuels destructive processes.
Overview: Social Tension
Pressure or stress that is felt in a social situation.
Related Concepts

Creative Tension

This is the complete list of articles we have written about creative tension.
Creative Tension
Creative Traits
Group Harmony
Loaded Language
Political Participation
Public Speaking
Saving Face
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Creative Tension

A definition of creative tension with examples.

Political Polarization

The definition of political polarization with a list of its basic characteristics.

Argument Examples

An overview of common types of argument with examples of each.

Loaded Language

The definition of loaded language with examples.

Social Influence

The definition of social influence with examples.

Work Creativity

An overview of work creativity with examples.

Political Behavior

An overview of political behavior with examples.


The definition of activism with examples.


An overview of persuasion with examples.

Influencing Techniques

A few basic influencing strategies.

Internalization vs Compliance

The two ways that people accept ideas.

Message Framing

An overview of message framing as an influencing technique.

Cultural Capital

A definition of cultural capital with examples.

Touching Base

A definition of touch base with examples.

Positive Criticism

A definition of positive criticism with examples.

Business Storytelling

The common types of business story.

Consensus Building

The definition of consensus building with examples.


The definition of credibility with examples.
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