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Conflict Negotiation Tactics in Romantic Relationships in High School Students

Abstract

To investigate how teenagers deal with conflict in romantic relationships, 869 high school students (mean age 16, range 14–19), experienced in romantic relations, completed a conflict tactic scale (adapted from Rands et al., 1981, and Straus, 1979). A principal components analysis revealed six factors, which in descending frequency of use were Compromise, Distraction, Avoidance, Overt Anger, Seeking Social Support, and Violence. Conflict tactics varied as a function of demographic characteristics. Specifically, older teens used Compromise more than younger; girls used Compromise and Overt Anger more and Distraction less than boys; African-Americans used Violence more and Compromise less than European-Americans, whereas Asian-Americans used Distraction and Avoidance more than European-Americans. To assess predictors of conflict tactics, teens also completed scales assessing self-esteem (Rosenberg, 1965), immature and mature defense mechanisms (Araujo and Steiner, 1998, under review) and internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors (Achenbach, 1966). Each of these was singly and jointly associated with the use of conflict tactics. In multiple regression analyses, the externalizing problem score best predicted Overt Anger and Violence in dealing with romantic conflict, the internalizing problem score best predicted Avoidance and Distraction; whereas the mature defense mechanism score was the best predictor of seeking Social Support and Compromise.

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Feldman, S.S., Gowen, L.K. Conflict Negotiation Tactics in Romantic Relationships in High School Students. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 27, 691–717 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022857731497

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Keywords

  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Problem Behavior
  • Demographic Characteristic
  • Multiple Regression Analysis
  • Good Predictor