Conflict Beliefs, Goals, and Behavior in Romantic Relationships During Late Adolescence

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Little is known about social cognition regarding conflict in romantic relationships during late adolescence. The current study examined beliefs, social goals, and behavioral strategies for conflict in romantic relationships and their associations with relationship quality among a sample of 494 college students. Two dimensions of conflict beliefs, constructive and destructive, were identified. Constructive conflict beliefs were associated with relationship-oriented conflict goals and negotiation strategies during romantic conflict. Destructive conflict beliefs were associated with conflict goals focused on revenge or individual needs (self or partner) and with destructive conflict behavior (aggression and compliance). Conflict goals partially mediated links between general conflict beliefs and specific conflict strategies. Conflict beliefs, goals, and behavior also uniquely predicted the degree of conflict and intimacy in romantic relationships.

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