AuthorPhillips, Julie Ann.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractMarital research has demonstrated that one of the most important factors related to marital satisfaction is spouses' response to marital conflict. Three types of conflict behavior have been previously identified: problem solving, coercion, and avoidance. Problem solving has been linked to marital satisfaction, whereas coercion and avoidance have been linked to marital dissatisfaction. Previous marital researchers have studied couples' response to marital conflict as though spouses' typical response to conflict consists of only one of these types. In addition, marital researchers have only recently begun examining the role of emotion and cognitive processes in marital conflict. The present study is descriptive in nature and addresses three goals. First, subgroups of spouses and couples are identified based on the pattern of conflict behaviors they endorse. Second, relationships among perception of partner conflict behavior, specific emotions, and perception of self conflict behavior are explored. Third, sex differences found with regard to the first two goals are examined. Subjects consisted of two samples, a clinical sample and a research sample, resulting in a heterogeneous total sample of 117 couples. Cluster analysis identified four subgroups of husbands and five subgroups of wives. Differences in husband and wife clusters were consistent with previous marital conflict research. Although the valence of emotion was found to differentiate among the various subgroups of spouses, the type of emotion (e.g. sadness versus anger) was not found to differentiate these groups. However, regression analyses identified more complex relationships which varied with group identity and gender. In these relationships, the type of emotion was important. Limitations of the present study, clinical implications, and implications for future research are discussed.