Consistency Of Conflict Resolution Strategies Across Different Factors

3484 words - 14 pages

Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. The people we come into contact with everyday and the relationships we have with them, be it work, family or peer ones, are not free from conflict. Conflict can thus be said to be a part of life. However, unresolved conflicts have the potential to cripple relationships and negatively affect a person's psyche. It is therefore important to understand the strategies that are used to resolve conflicts and whether there is consistency in the usage of these strategies. The term conflict has broad denotations and even broader connotations. For the psychological purposes of this study, the meaning of conflict will be restricted to refer to a perceived divergence of interest, or a belief that the parties' current aspirations cannot be achieved simultaneously (Rubin et al., 1994). This restriction of the meaning is crucial for this study as it seeks to understand how incongruency between involved parties' interests and goals and the consistency of conflict resolution methods used are influenced by involved parties' nature of relationship, value systems and the relative importance of the issue at stake in a conflict. An area of much interest to researchers in conflict resolution is the consistency of styles or strategies used for different situations. Two factors that are thought to affect choice of styles are the personality attributes of the parties involved and the perceptual styles. However, Sternberg and Dobson (1987) argue that analysis of personal dispositions such as that of personality attributes or perceptual style does not yield a full understanding of the choice of conflict resolution strategies people use. This stand has been supported by other researchers too, who believe that the situations in which conflicts occur should be studied in greater detail to gain a fuller understanding of the strategies used (Deutsch, 1973; Janis & Mann, 1971; Smith, 1971 in Sternberg & Dobson, 1987). Nevertheless, a study of college students by Sternberg and Soriano (1984 in Sternberg & Dobson, 1987) showed that a consistent choice of conflict resolution style could be predicted from certain intellectual and personality attributes. Sternberg and Dobson's (1987) series of three experiments corroborated that of Sternberg and Soriano's, in which they found consistent styles across various situations, one of which is consistency across different kinds of relationships, in which this study is interested in. Another area of interest to researchers is the possible influence of underlying cognitive value systems in the choice of conflict resolution styles. Beliefs generate outward action and behaviour (Mackay 1994 in Pearson & Love, 1999). Thus different belief or value systems might result in conflict, but these value systems might also influence the the kinds of strategies utilised in resolving conflict (Pearson & Love, 1999). Gilligan (1982 in Pearson & Love, 1999)...

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