I gave up long ago on formulating what seems like a new concept as I came to peace with the fact that billions of people alive and dead means there's very little room for new concepts. (just an anecdote, not the focus of my question)

So I want to know what theory or concept describes the idea in which constantly comparing two things (or more?) in a "yin and yang" like opposition would associate rivalry between the two things even if non existed before the intentional creation of this comparison.

This idea came to me through observation of how politics and media works, whether scientifically intended or just mere learned through experience, in instigating seemingly unrelated concepts in a comparison situation, and enforcing that comparison on the masses to create such rivalry between the two concepts; then have the ability to influence external factors to skew the mass opinion one way or the other. It works because they're using it then with the oldest trick in the books: divide and conquer. So they get those two things, put them in such a rivalry comparison where if one existed the other can not exist at the same time, creating division and "teams" of sort, then appealing to each team in some way or the other to win its loyalty.

So the question is:

What theory or concept describes the creation of rivalry between two ideas to instigate division?

One idea I had was really just describing it as "competition". But this doesn't work; In competition, there's variable degrees of existence of each competing idea. However in the case of my question, where one idea exists in some context, the other idea can't.

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    $\begingroup$ Quite commonly this is called a reasoning error: a false dichotomy or false dilemma. This seems more of a linguistics question, and not really on topic here. It is not framed within cognitive sciences. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Aug 8 '16 at 10:16
  • $\begingroup$ Not every human behaviour has a genetic basis / competitive advantage. Here is a related question: cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/13748/… $\endgroup$ – Arnon Weinberg Aug 8 '16 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you both, especially Steven; from your answer I went through and read more about dichotomy in general and found "Binary Opposition", which, so far, describes my observation to a tee. However, I'm not asking about linguistics. I'm asking about a specific theory or concept to describe this observation, which I found as stated earlier. $\endgroup$ – Mars Aug 9 '16 at 3:28
  • $\begingroup$ So are you asking if there is a natural tendency towards tribalism, as described in this blog post and the summer campers? slatestarcodex.com/2016/04/04/the-ideology-is-not-the-movement $\endgroup$ – Seanny123 Aug 9 '16 at 13:05
  • $\begingroup$ No that's different. Look at my answer. I found a theory that describes it. $\endgroup$ – Mars Aug 10 '16 at 3:32

"Binary Opposition"

Systems are "binary" when they are composed of only two parts. It's easy to imagine things "in opposition," like the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, or the World War II alliances known as the "Axis Powers" and "the Allies." For an opposition to be truly "binary," however, the opposing classes of thing/idea must be mutually exclusive. That is, membership in one class must make impossible membership in the other. source

My observation is that this is being politicized and used in conjunction with other techniques to exert control. So they're creating "Binary Oppositions".


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