• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Conflict is a natural and inevitable aspect of most close personal relationships - the crucial issue is not whether it exists, but the way it is managed. Skilfully portraying both developmental or healthy conflict, and destructive or unhealthy conflict, this interdisciplinary volume leads to a better understanding of this vital aspect of relationships. Integrating current research and theory, the authors explore the variation in definitions of interpersonal conflict; review popular survey and observational measures; and discuss specific concerns regarding parent-child relationships, conflict between friends and those romantically involved.

The Nature of Conflict in Close Relationships
The nature of conflict in close relationships

For several reasons, conflict in interpersonal contexts enjoys a high research priority among scholars examining close relationships. First, the management of conflict tests the character of relationships perhaps more rigorously than do other types of interaction. Partners in quality relationships manage conflicts through positive interaction behaviors, which include collaborating with each other and disallowing escalation of anger into aggression, rejecting withdrawal as a viable management strategy, and avoiding or changing destructive behavioral patterns and cycles (e.g., Gottman, 1994; Sillars & Wilmot, 1994).

Second, interpersonal conflict is central to individuals' development (Valsiner & Cairns, 1992). As Shantz (1987) observed, “Conflict is a central concept in virtually every major theory of human development” (p. 283). ...

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