Interpersonal Conflict Behaviour as a Mediator between Couples’ Personalities and their Relationship Satisfaction: Application of the Actor-Partner Interdependence and Gender-Specific Models

by Maxwell Blumberg

Institution: Goldsmiths, University of London
Department: Psychology
Degree: Doctorate Degree
Year: 2006
Keywords: couple relationships meditation interpersonal conflict personality gender-specific actor-partner multilevel model
Posted: 08/31/2019
Record ID: 2222194
Full text PDF: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4MfkhSf9MiGWjRCN1hlcWZnR0E/view?usp=sharing


Intimate couple relationships are central to human wellbeing and studies have demonstrated strong links between relationship distress and physical, mental, and social problems. Psychologists have therefore researched the determinants of relationship outcomes with a view to developing interventions for the amelioration of relationship distress. This research has suffered from a number of limitations. First, the majority of studies have focused on bivariate associations between relationship outcomes and causal factors. Little is therefore known about the effects of interactions between the well researched factors of personality and conflict behaviour on relationship outcomes. In particular, the extent to which conflict behaviour mediates the association between partners’ personalities and their relationship satisfaction is unknown. Second, investigations have seldom accounted for the interdependence of observations typical of intimate couples. Third, the majority of studies investigating relationship outcomes of heterosexual couples have assumed that effects on relationship outcomes vary by gender without specifically testing this assumption. This dissertation examined the associations between Five Factor model personality traits, conflict behaviour, and the relationship satisfaction of 234 heterosexual couples drawn from an Internet-based sample of 1122 participants in intimate couple relationships. The following analyses were performed: conflict behaviour and relationship satisfaction; personality and relationship satisfaction; personality and conflict behaviour; and conflict behaviour as a mediator of the effects of personality on relationship satisfaction. Analyses were based on the Actor-Partner Interdependence and gender-specific models. The study found that the association between relationship satisfaction and conflict behaviour was larger than that between relationship satisfaction and personality. Furthermore, the effects of actor conflict behaviour were significantly stronger than those of partner conflict behaviour suggesting that an actor-oriented model of relationship outcomes better accounted for the results. The strongest personality correlate of relationship satisfaction was actor agreeableness while actor neuroticism was most strongly associated with conflict behaviour. The effects of personality on relationship satisfaction were almost completely mediated by conflict behaviour with the effects of neuroticism and agreeableness showing the greatest degree of mediation. Finally, minimal support for a gender-specific model was found.