Successful Methods and Styles of Conflict Resolution as Identified by Heterosexuals, Gays, and Lesbians in Committed Relationships: A Mixed Methods Study




Hennigan, Randi

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Texas Woman s University


The focus of this study was to identify successful methods of conflict resolution in committed relationships. The purpose of this study was to further the research on heterosexual and same-sex relationships and to address the disparities in couple research by including heterosexuals, gays, and lesbians in the same study. Furthermore, the researcher hoped to broaden the field's understanding of how individuals in these three types of relationships describe successful conflict resolution and to provide an avenue to capture their unique experiences and strategies. This mixed methods online study investigated the experience of successful conflict resolution in a sample of nearly 700 individuals across three couple types: heterosexual (n = 625), gay (n = 16), and lesbian (n = 50). The quantitative data were collected using Kurdek's (1994a) Conflict Resolution Styles Inventory (CRSI) to identify participants' primary conflict resolution style and Schumm et al.'s (1986) Kansas Marital Satisfaction Scale (KMSS) was used to determine participants' satisfaction as a baseline. Quantitative results were interpreted using Pearson's correlations and partial correlations, Gamma, and chi-square. Qualitative data were collected via a qualitative questionnaire and the qualitative analysis included over 200 participants (N = 207) due to a smaller sampling of the heterosexual women. A group of randomly selected heterosexual women (n = 71) were chosen to compare with the original group of heterosexual men (n = 71), gays (n = 16), and lesbians (n = 49) and analyzed through thematic coding and the use of second and third coders to cross analyze and cross verify emerging themes. Major themes included four primary categories: Interaction, Attitudes, Process, and Negative Strategies. Within each primary category were several sub-themes. Interaction included Communication, Compromise, Problem Solve, Understand, Unity, and Give-in sub-themes. Attitudes included Approachable, Direct, and Values sub-themes. Process included Maintenance, Take Time, Immediate, and Drop It sub-themes. And finally, Negative Strategies included Aggression and Non Aggression, of which participants typically described avoiding these negative approaches. Both quantitative and qualitative results suggested all three groups were more alike than different and particular variables, such as gender, age, number of years together, education, satisfaction, or sexual orientation did not impact participants' reported conflict resolution styles on the CRSI or their described experiences in participants' qualitative responses, thus accepting the null hypotheses that there is no statistically significant relationship between the three groups' sexual orientation, their conflict resolution methods, and variables of gender, age, number of years together, education, and satisfaction.



Family Therapy, Individual & family studies, Counseling psychology, GLBT studies