A Roles Approach to Conflict Strategies: Modeling the Effects of Self- and Other-Role Enactment on Conflict Strategies Through Goals and Emotion
Cai, Deborah A.
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This dissertation addresses how, in a conflict situation, individuals enact different roles and how their responses to the other party's role enactment affect the strategies they choose to handle the conflict. A model is proposed to delineate the cognitive and emotional process through which the focal individual and the other party's role enactment affect the focal individual's conflict strategies. The model was first examined using the data based on participants' recall of a past conflict and their answers to questions that assessed behaviors (N = 265). Next, a laboratory experiment was used to test a model in which a conflict was induced and each participant interacted with a confederate to complete a decision making task (N = 261). The focal person's obligation to his or her general role and the other party's expectation violations were manipulated. Participants' embracement of their situated roles, perceived goal importance, emotion, and the use of four types of conflict strategies were measured. Results indicated that obligation predicted the use of relational-protective strategies through the mediating effect of relational goal importance. Embracement of the situated role was found to directly predict the use of a relational-protective confronting strategy but indirectly predict the use of a relational-disruptive confronting strategy through situated goal importance. The other's expectation violation changed the perceived goal importance and the emotion of the focal individual, which predicted the use of relational-disruptive strategies. However, the main reason for the effect of expectation violation on relational-disruptive strategies was individuals' direct reaction to the other's behavior rather than anger. Interpretations and implications of the results, the limitations of the study, theoretical and methodological contributions of the study, and future directions were discussed.