Conflict among clinic couples : self-monitoring, attributions, and resolution strategies

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Haferkamp, Claudia J.
Barke, Charles R.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
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The relationship of self-monitoring processes and causal attributions to choice of conflict resolution strategy among married clinic couples was examined. Thirty-five couples and nine individual spouses who were currently receiving marriage counseling completed four questionnaires: the Locke-Wallace Marital Adjustment Scale; Snyder's Self-Monitoring Scale; a Marital Conflict Questionnaire, a measure of attributions; and a Conflict Strategy Scale measuring the frequency with which spouses used Integrative (cooperative), Distributive (uncooperative), and Denial-Avoidant conflict resolution strategies. The following hypotheses were tested: 1) self-monitoring differences between spouses would be positively associated with attributional conflicts and uncooperative modes of conflict resolution; 2) responsibility attributed to the partner would be associated with increased dispositional attributions for the partner's behavior, increased use of Distributive strategies, and lower overall marital satisfaction. Analyses included bivariate correlations and multiple regression analyses predicting conflict strategy and marital satisfaction from self-monitoring and attributions.Contrary to expectations, self-monitoring differences were not related to attributional conflict or conflict strategy endorsed. However, high self-monitoring spouses made more situational attributions for their partners' behavior and endorsed more frequent use of Dental-Avoidant strategies. Responsibility attributed to the partner had a positive relationship to dispositional attributions for the partner's behavior but no relationship to use of conflict strategy. Regression analyses indicated that self-monitoring, Intent to have an impact, and resolvability of conflicts accounted for significant amounts of variance in use of Distributive (uncooperative) strategies. Importance of conflicts, own control, and use of Denial-Avoidant strategies predicted more than three-fourths the variance in marital satisfaction.Results contradict previous research Indicating that partner responsibility Is associated with Increased uncooperative behavior. Present results suggest that self-presentational concerns are prevalent In marital conflicts and may enhance the likelihood of uncooperative/avoidant behavior. Possible modifications in the attributional model of marital conflict to account for the Impact of self-monitoring on conflict resolution in distressed relationships are proposed. Implications for therapy with distressed couples and future research on attributional processes in close relationships is discussed.