Using hypothetical vignettes, we investigated the extent to which gender differences in conflict-management strategies depended on the relationship context of a same-gender friendship vs. a romantic relationship. Associations between conflict-management strategies, goals and gender-typed traits also were assessed. Men (131) and women (203) undergraduate students (19–25 years) from a state university in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States participated. To assess expressive and instrumental personality traits, participants completed the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ; Spence and Helmreich 1978). Participants also rated their endorsement of communal and agentic goals and strategies for managing hypothetical conflicts presented in the “Peer Conflict Management Questionnaire.” This questionnaire, created for the purposes of this study, consisted of 4 vignettes that portrayed hypothetical conflicts with a friend and a romantic partner. Results showed that women were more likely than men to endorse communal strategies when managing conflict with a same-gender friend, but not with a romantic partner. Women were more likely than men to endorse agentic strategies for managing conflict with a romantic partner, but not with a same-gender friend. For conflicts with a same-gender friend, communal goals, but not expressive traits or gender, predicted communal strategy endorsement. For conflicts with a romantic partner, gender and agentic goals predicted agentic strategies; instrumental traits did not. Implications for understanding consequences of gender-typed relationship processes are discussed. The contextual specificity of gender differences and similarities are emphasized.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 26, 2012
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