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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1980 May;38(5):751-63.

Interpersonal perception and mode of resolution in marital conflict.


The present study examined the relationship between changes in couples' perceptions of each other during a conflictual interaction and their mode of conflict resolution. Thirty-three volunteer married couples were videotaped while recreating a conflictual interaction that had occurred previously. During a subsequent replaying of the videotape, husbands' and wives' verbal descriptions of perceptions of self and spouse were elicited at three different stages of the conflict, using a method for eliciting perceptions derived from Laing. Phillipson, and Lee's multiperspective interpersonal perception technique. The interpersonal perceptions of couples who resolved the conflict by engaging the issue at hand were contrasted with those of couples who resolved the conflict via avoidance. Statistically significant differences were found between the groups, suggesting that engaging the issue was associated with an increase in spouses' access to one another's interpersonal perceptions, whereas avoidance was associated with decreases in consensually valid perceptions. Substantive and methodological implications of the study are discussed.

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