Conflict Mindset Cognitive analysis of the effects of relationship conflict on relationship closeness

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Sunyoung Oh
Yongwon Suh

Abstract

Previous research found that task conflict and relationship conflict are highly correlated and calls for research on factors that buffer the detrimental effects of relationship conflict for the beneficial effects of task conflict on team performance. With the cognitive approach to conflict construal processes, the present research argues that conflict mindset, a mental frame that people adopt in making sense of conflict situations, plays an important role in shaping responses to relationship conflict, which affects the destructive outcomes of relationship conflict such as diminished feeling of relationship closeness with the other party. Survey data were collected from 272 college students. This research identified two different types of conflict mindset, and found that learning mindset has a positve relation with relationship closeness and this relation is partially mediated by a chain of cooperative resolution strategy, perceived fairness of the other's behavior, and residual emotion, while judgmental mindset has an indirect relation with relationship closeness via the path between avoidance strategy and residual emotion. The results indicate that conflict mindset is important in explaining conflict responses and different conflict outcomes in terms of relationship maintenance, and furthermore learning mindset can be effective in buffering the damaging effects of relationship conflict. Finally, theoretical and practical implications, limitation and suggestion for future research are discussed.

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