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The conflict resolution styles and relationship satisfaction of couples living in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
Communication forms an integral part of couple interactions and managing conflictual communications competently greatly contributes to the quality of a relationship. This study was a partial replication of Vito's Canadian study (1998) and was designed to investigate self-reported levels of relationship satisfaction and life satisfaction, conflict resolution styles and perceived effectiveness of problem solving in individuals in cohabiting or marital relationships. These variables were examined with self-report data from 75 participants (61 women and 14 men) who participated in a mail survey. The measures used to examine these variables of interest included the Kansas Marital Satisfaction Scale, Conflict Resolution Styles Inventory, Life-as-a-whole Index and a subscale of the Couple Problem-Solving Scale which measured the perceived effectiveness of personal and partner problem solving. Correlational calculations and hierarchical multiple regression analyses demonstrated that conflict resolution styles accounted for a significant amount of variance in relationship satisfaction. In particular it was found that the conflict resolution style of positive problem solving was positively related to relationship satisfaction. Individuals who, however, reported higher levels of the so-called "negative" conflict resolution styles of conflict engagement, withdrawal and compliance obtained concurrent lower scores on relationship satisfaction. Further data analyses indicated that self-reported levels of relationship satisfaction were positively related to life-as-a-whole satisfaction. Self-reported levels of perceived effectiveness of personal and partner problem solving ability were also found to be positively related to relationship satisfaction. These preceding relationships were maintained once additional factors such as duration of relationship and other demographic variables were controlled for.