This study was an initial exploratory test of the relationship between disputants' interpretation of an ongoing conflict i.e., dimensions of conflict frame, their conflict management objectives, expectations regarding settlement, and features of the dispute context. Fifty undergraduate students and the individuals with whom they were having a conflict were asked to describe the conflict they shared Each subject's conflict description was given a score for each of the dimensions of conflict frame i.e., relationship vs. task emotional vs. intellectual compromise vs. win. Results suggest that conflict frame scores relate to features of the dispute context. Specifically, disputants with a relationship, intellectual frame were also likely to believe that the conflict had developed over a long period of time and involved a number of issues. Disputants with emotional, compromise frames felt that the conflict had surfaced suddenly and involved a number of issues. An emotional, win perspective was most typical for disputants who viewed the conflict as serious or intense. A second set of results suggest that disputants with a relationship perspective are more concerned about procedural issues while those with a task frame focus on distributive goals. In addition, disputants typically share the same frame on the relationship vs. task dimension and the compromise vs. win dimension, but are less likely to do so on the emotional vs. intellectual dimension. Finally, when disputants share a win as opposed to a compromise perspective, their joint expectations regarding outcome increase suggesting an overconfidence bias.
International Journal of Conflict Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 1, 1992