Personality and marital conflict type: Who we are and how we fight
This study explored the relationship between psychological (personality) needs of married individuals and Gottman's four couple conflict types -- Validating, Conflict-Avoiding, Volatile, and Hostile -- in a sample of 175 heterosexual married individuals from the United States and Canada, of diverse ages and ethnicities. Participants anonymously completed four measures online - a demographic questionnaire, the Adjective Check List (ACL), the Couple Conflict Type Questionnaire (CCT), and the Personality and Marital Conflict Survey (PMC). Seven hypotheses posited a relationship between a need cluster and a conflict type; five of seven hypotheses were confirmed. The correlations also established 24 significant relationships between the four conflict types and the 15 individual need scales. The Validating conflict type was significantly positively correlated to the Nurturance, Affiliation, and Heterosexuality need scales individually as well as in a cluster. The Conflict-Avoiding conflict type was significantly positively correlated to the Abasement and Deference need scales individually as well as in a cluster. The Conflict-Avoiding conflict type was significantly negatively correlated to the Dominance, Exhibition, Aggression, and Change need scales in a cluster. Additionally the Endurance and Achievement scales were also significantly negatively correlated to the Conflict-Avoiding conflict type. The Volatile conflict type was significantly positively correlated to the Achievement, Dominance, Exhibition, Autonomy, Aggression, and Change need scales individually as well as in a cluster. The Volatile conflict type was significantly negatively correlated to the Abasement and Deference need scales. Twenty three correlations were found between supplemental need scales of the ACL and the conflict types. Age, ethnicity, religion, income, and number of children were significantly related to conflict type. The findings suggest that clinicians can enhance couples' therapy by including psychoeducation about the connection between psychological needs and ways of engaging in marital conflict, by discussing how a couple fights versus what they fight about, and by helping clients observe personality needs as well as the conflict type they are associated with. Clinicians are cautioned against personal biases for conflict types. Limitations of this study and directions of future research are discussed.
0625: Personality psychology