Interpersonal Conflict Research Paper

Understanding interpersonal conflict can improve your relationships as well as offer an interesting research paper topic if you are interested in psychology or behavior.

Interpersonal conflict creates issues in all types of relationships. (Credit: HR Backstage)

Interpersonal conflict results when two or more individuals who need to collaborate together on something have different perspectives, interests, or objectives. Interpersonal conflict can have various origins and points of focus.

Behavioral, Cognitive, and Affective Aspects

  • The behavioral aspect refers to someone who, due to the conflict, interferes with the goals of another through their behavior. An example of this is someone who might try to trip up a project you are working on at the office to prevent you from getting a promotion.
  • The cognitive aspect of disagreement between people includes a clash between the two sides that shows their different views, interests, or goals. An example of this is when the product development manager of a company disagrees with the manager in charge of production about how resources should be allocated due to having different goals for his department.
  • The affective aspect addresses the negative emotional impact on the conflicting individuals such as stress, anger and frustration.

Types of Interpersonal Conflict

Interpersonal conflict can be people-focused or issue-focused and can arise from various causes such as personal differences, lack of information, environmental stress and role incompatibility. A few examples are listed and described below.

  • Lack of Information: Conflict may arise when information is not received, or the information is not interpreted as intended. To help avoid this type of conflict, it is good to be as clear and thorough in your communications as possible.
  • Power Struggles: Possessiveness, jealousy, and too many expectations or demands can create power struggles among people. For example, you may want your spouse to give you too much of his or her attention.
  • Trust Issues: Trust forms the foundation of a good relationship and disputes can arise when one partner in a relationship does not trust the other with telling the truth or with the relationship being exclusive.

Resolving Interpersonal Conflict

Interpersonal conflicts are a part of everyday life and can surface with just about anyone we deal with on an ongoing basis such as spouses, siblings, parents, children, coworkers, students, or teachers. This is natural and unavoidable. It is a chance for personal growth, the understanding of others and ourselves, and for developing relationship skills. When dealt with in an assertive and sensitive manner, conflict can provide opportunities for creating improved relationships.

Interpersonal conflict at work can interfere with business operations, and interpersonal conflict in personal relationships can have a negative impact on the relationship and its lasting power, so it is important to learn to recognize and deal with this type of conflict to minimize its negative effects. Also, when the conflict becomes too serious, it can be a good idea to get a mediator involved to have another point of view and to help resolve the dispute.

Conflict Resolution Tips

Most conflicts happen at two levels at the same time:  the content level and the power level (relationship level). The content level is the general issue such as the dishes needing to be washed. The power level involves components such as prestige, hierarchy, and saving face. The outcomes of conflicts can be win-lose, lose-lose, or win-win. In the win-lose outcome, one party in the conflict is satisfied in the short run but eventually the situation becomes a lose-lose for both parties. Approaches to manage or resolve conflict can include finding ways to diminish feelings of discontent by helping people to see things for the other person’s point of view.

  • Use “I” Language: When dealing with disputes, avoid using words that exaggerate such as “never”, “always”, “can’t”, or “nothing”, or using negative language such as “trapped” or “picked on”. Use “I” language, even when referring to the other person’s behavior, and describe how you feel instead of attacking the other person. For example, instead of saying “you just don’t care”, say “I feel that you don’t care about this issue.” Using “I” language makes it less likely that the other person will get defensive and will allow you to reach a resolution faster.
  • Use Probing Questions: Ask questions to find out what the other person is thinking and feeling such as “What thoughts would you like to share with me?” Encourage the person to completely express what they think and feel. This will allow you to see the full situation.
  • Stay Positive: Stay as positive as possible and look for encouraging things to say about the other person even if one or both of you is angry. For example, you may say “I respect you for bringing this problem to my attention.”

If you are looking for a research paper topic related to psychology and human communication, try using Questia’s Topic Generator to look for other ideas and get a head start on identifying some primary sources.

What examples of interpersonal conflict can you share and how was the conflict resolved?

Essay about Conflict in Interpersonal Relationships

1487 Words6 Pages

Conflict in Interpersonal Relationships Conflict. It could happen with a friend, romantic partner, co-worker, or complete stranger. There are many researchers out there who study conflict and all of the aspects to it. One thing that is clear is that conflict is inevitable in every interpersonal relationship, and it requires understanding, management, and reconciliation to prevent damage to the relationship. Dean Tjosvold and Lin Wang both of Lingnan University out of Hong-Kong wrote Developing a Shared Understanding of Conflict: Foundations for Sino-Western Mediation. This provided a very concrete understanding of conflict. They provided the definition of conflict as “opposing interests involving scarce resources and goal divergence and…show more content…

On the other hand Dean Tjosvold and Lin Wang used the idea that “conflict conflict should be best considered as dynamic process, including antecedent, conditions, individual awareness, affective states, overt behavior and aftermath” (Thomas 1990). A good example of this would be; for the past month a guy has been hanging out only with his friends instead of his girlfriend (antecedent condition). The guy knows that this will eventually anger the girlfriend and the girlfriend starts to realize that him doing this is going to create conflict (individual awareness). After realizing this, the girlfriend becomes angry about the situation and decides to confront her boyfriend about his neglect to her over the past month (affective state and overt behavior). After the confrontation the guy agrees to spend more time with her and tell his friends he has to limit his time with them (aftermath). Of course this can change with each situation but it gives the general idea. Gerald Ledlow wrote a book called “Health Organizations: Theory, Behavior, and Development” and in chapter nine he talks about conflict in interpersonal communication. He provides information mainly about conflict management including management styles. This includes the Thomas and Kilman Model for Management. The author discusses the Thomas and Kilaman model

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