Patterns of Hostility and its Effects on Conflict Resolution
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Parent-adolescent relationships are one of the first relationships an adolescent has, and can be very influential. Conflict in this relationship is inevitable and hostility is perceived to be counterproductive in conflict resolution. Literature shows that parents who demonstrated less hostility and focused more on the conflict were more likely to resolve the conflict with their adolescent (Marceau et al., 2015). However, there is a lack of literature on the possible benefits of hostility in conflict resolution. This study aims to analyze how nonverbal hostile behaviors influence conflict resolution while examining the temporal patterning of these behaviors. We predict that any hostility during the conflict will signal to the adolescent that their parent is becoming uncooperative, which may increase the adolescent’s efforts to resolve a conflict. Additionally, we predict that parents who demonstrate low hostility levels at the beginning of the conflict are more likely to resolve the conflict with their adolescents than parents who exhibit low hostility levels towards the end of the conflict. 42 dyads were examined using previously recorded videos and the acts of hostility were coded based on an established coding manual. We found that the parental hostility scores obtained in the four conflict resolution groups were significantly different from one another. Additionally, the mean hostility scores obtained by No Resolution were significantly higher than those of Complete Resolution and No Conflict. These results show that hostility is not completely counterproductive and destructive to conflict resolution. We recommend for hostility in conflict to be studied further to understand the behaviors parents display during conflict resolution.