HD 462 Lecture 28: HD 462 4.19 Notes (Chapter 11)

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University of Alabama
Human Development and Family Studies
HD 462

Chapter 11 Continued The course of conflict • Four different types of events cause most conflicts: o Criticism is behavior that seems unjustly critical, being perceived as demeaning or derogatory o Illegitimate demands are requests that are excessive and that seem unjust o Rebuffs occur when one’s appeals for help or support are rejected o Cumulative annoyances are relatively trivial events that become irritating with repetition • An intriguing example of cumulative annoyances are social allergies, which occur when small nuisances gradually come to cause strong reactions of disgust and exasperation that are out of proportion to the offense • Attributions o Two partners’ explanations for events are routinely somewhat different, and conflict can result: ▪ Misunderstanding may occur if partners fail to appreciate that each of them has his or her own point of view ▪ Attributional conflict can occur, with partners arguing over whose explanation is right and whose is wrong o When conflict occurs, the explanations with which intimate partners account for their frustrations have a huge influence on how distressed they feel and how angrily they respond o Happy couples are less likely than unhappy couples to regard their partners as selfishly motivated and as behaving with negative intent • Engagement and escalation o When an instigating event occurs, the partners may avoid the issue and let it drop o If the issue is engaged and conflict begins, negotiation and rational problem- solving may follow o However, in other cases, escalation occurs and the conflict heats up o Unpleasant behavior may occur o Direct actions explicitly challenge one’s partner: ▪ Accusations ▪ Hostile commands and threats ▪ Surly and sarcastic putdowns o Indirect actions are more veiled and implicit: ▪ Condescension ▪ Whining ▪ Evasion o All of these behaviors both direct and indirect are obnoxious to some degree, and satisfied partners engage in these behaviors less often than discontented, disgruntled partners do o Surly conflict becomes especially fractious when the partners fall into a pattern of negative affect reciprocity, trading escalating provocations back and forth o High levels of negative emotion make conflict corrosive • The demand/withdraw pattern o This obnoxious cycle occurs when one partner criticizes and nags the other, and the other retreats from the confrontation and becomes defensive o The demander tends to become more insistent while the withdrawer becomes more resistant o In heterosexual couples, around the world, women tend to be the demanders and men the withdrawers more often than not • Negotiation and accommodation o When things settle down and the partners are again nice to each other, negotiation may also be: ▪ Direct • Offering concessions • Engaging in active listening • Providing approval and affection ▪ Indirect • Using friendly, non-sarcastic humor o Successful negotiations will be more likely if you: ▪ Remain optimistic ▪ Value your partner’s outcomes as well as your own ▪ Focus on what you can do differently to improve things ▪ Consider what a neutral third party would think ▪ Take a break if anyone begins to get annoyed o So, some respond to conflict are destructive, but others are constructive o We can also be active and take action, or do nothing and be passive o When these two different dimensions are combined, four different responses to conflict and dissatisfaction result o Voice- actively, constructively working to improve the situation o Loyalty- passively waiting and hoping for things to get better o Exit- active but destructive responses such as leaving the partner o Neglect- passively allowing things to get worse o Voice and loyalty are more likely when a relationship has been satisfying in the
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