2010. Vol.1, No.5, 370-376
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. DOI:10.4236/psych.2010.15046
Family Conflict Resolution: Its Measurement and Relationship
with Family Conflict and Psychological Adjustment
P. Tyler Roskos, Paul J. Handal, Megan E. Ubinger
School of Medicine, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, USA.
Received June 7th, 2010; revised August 4th, 2010; accepted August 9th, 2010.
Based on family conflict literature, there is a need for the development of a measure of family conflict resolution.
This study aimed to develop items based on established instruments and rationally construct new items in order
to pilot a measure of family conflict resolution. Preliminary reliability and validity data were obtained using a
sample of young adults. Results indicate that the proposed measure of conflict resolution produced valid factor
analytic solutions, adequate internal consistency, and construct validity. The results of this study also revealed
avoidance of conflict as a factor that is related to adjustment. Future research into conflict avoidance as a salient
contributor to psychological adjustment appears warranted.
Keywords: Family Conflict, Conflict Resolution, Adjustment
A review of the empirical literature has revealed a clear rela-
tionship between conflict and adjustment. Interparental conflict
has been demonstrated to have a negative effect on the adjust-
ment of children (Cummings, Goeke-Morey, Papp, & Dukewich,
2002; Davies & Cummings, 1994; El-Sheikh, M., 1997) while
research into the area of perceived family conflict has demon-
strated both statistically significant and clinically meaningful
results for children (Handal, Tschannen, & Searight, 1998),
adolescents (Borrine, Handal, Brown, & Searight, 1991) and
young adults (Nelson, Hughes, Handal, & Katz, 1993). Results
of these studies have demonstrated that children, adolescents,
and young adults who perceive high levels of family conflict
score above the cutoff on an epidemiological measure of dis-
tress, while children, adolescents, and young adults who perce-
ive low levels of conflict in their families score below the cu-
toff score.
Since the deleterious aspects of conflict within the context of
a family are now strongly supported, conflict research has more
recently been concerned with the potential positive aspects of
conflict resolution on adjustment. For example, Davies and
Cummings (1994) hypothesized that if conflicts are solved,
they are less likely to be viewed negatively by the child and,
therefore, adjustment problems may not develop. In a laborato-
ry study, Cummings, Iannotti, and Zahn-Waxler (1985) re-
ported that children’s aggression and distress reduced to base-
line levels after exposure to conflict resolution between parents.
Furthermore, Cummings, Ballard, El-Sheikh, and Lake (1991)
demonstrated that children exposed to interparental conflict that
was unresolved had significantly greater angry reactions than
children who viewed partially or fully resolved interparental
Research in the area of family conflict resolution has focused
on resolved parental conflict (couples) and resolution has typi-
cally been measured in a dichotomous manner within a labora-
tory setting (resolved conflict versus unresolved conflict;
Cummings, et al., 1991). Also, laboratory studies have meas-
ured conflict resolution in couples based on behavioral obser-
vations during marital conflict resolution (DuRocher-Schudlich,
Papp, & Cummings, 2004). Overall, research involving inter-
parental conflict resolution shows that it is a potential buffer for
adjustment difficulties in children. However, more research
must be conducted in order to better measure conflict resolution
in order to draw conclusions about its meaningfulness in rela-
tion to adjustment. Development and validation of a self-report
measure that assesses family conflict resolution as perceived by
the child, adolescent, or young adult would be a necessary step
in this area of empirical investigation.
Instruments such as the Family Environment Scale (FES;
Moos & Moos, 1986) and the Children’s Perceptions of Inter-
parental Conflict Scale (CPIC; Grych, Seid, & Fincham, 1992)
have been established as measures of family conflict, but do not
include a family conflict resolution factor. The CPIC also only
focuses on how children view conflict between parents, limiting
its utility in measuring conflict resolution within other family
relationships. The Revised Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2;
Straus, Hamby, Boney-McCoy, & Sugarman, 1996) also pur-
ports to measure the use of reasoning and negotiation to deal
with conflicts. However, like the CPIC, this measure focuses on
disputes between couples, as opposed to family conflict and
conflict resolution. While these instruments have been shown to
be reliable and valid tools to assess conflict within the family,
they are perhaps limited as measures of family conflict resolu-
In order to gain a better understanding of what constitutes
family conflict resolution and how it may relate to adjustment,
development of a specific measure is needed. Ideally, this in-
strument would sensitively measure family conflict resolution,
allowing for the clarification of the potential relationship be-
tween family conflict resolution and psychological adjustment.
A better understanding of conflict resolution would also have
clinical implications for working with children, adolescents,
and young adults and their families regarding conflict.
The aim of this study was to develop a measure of perceived
family conflict resolution and to provide pilot reliability and
validity data for this instrument. This measure contains items
modeled after other established family conflict measures (Con-
flict Tactics Scale, Children’s Perceptions of Interparenal Con-
flict Scale, etc.) with empirically sound reliability and validity,
as described above, as well as newly-developed items aimed at
tapping the construct of family conflict resolution.
Met ho d
Data for this study were collected as a part of a larger unpub-
lished investigation of family conflict and psychological ad-
justment (Roskos, 2004). In the following, a brief description of
the procedure and measures used will be provi ded.
Participants in this study were 332 (98 males and 234 fe-
males) young adults drawn from an urban, Midwestern, Catho-
lic university. Twenty-nine percent of the participants were 18
years of age, 28% were 19, 21.7% were 20, 13.3% were 21,
5.4% were 22, and 1.8% were 23 or older (mean age = 19.4, SD
= 1.29). They were mostly Caucasian (85.2%), with other eth-
nicities represented as follows: 6.6% African American, 4.2%
Asian American, 1.0% Hispanic, and 2.1% other. Participants
generally came from intact two-parent families (74.4%), 12%
reported coming from divorced families, 7.2% reported having
a single parent, 3.6% had parents who were remarried, and
1.5% had one widowed parent. Participants were primarily of
middle to upper-middle socioeconomic status as determined by
participants’ report of their mother and father’s income and
educational/occupational levels. The majority of participants (N
= 169, 51%) lived in on-campus dormitory housing. Only 14%
(N = 45) of the sample was living at home with their family at
the time the study was conducted.
The conflict scale of The Family Environment Scale (FES;
Moos & Moos, 1986) was used to measure the participants’
views of family conflict. The FES is a 90-item true-false in-
strument that yields standard scores on 10 subscales. It is
widely used as a measure of family climate and how it relates to
psychological adjustment (Nelson, Hughes, Handal, & Katz,
1993; Handal, LeStiebel, Dicarlo, & Gutzwiller, 1999; Klein-
man, Handal, Enos, Searight, & Ross, 1989). The conflict scale
consists of nine items that assess the amount of expressed anger,
aggression, and conflict among family members. Kleinman, et al.
(1989) validated cut off scores for high (more than one standard
deviation above the mean) and low conflict (more than one
standard deviation below the mean) families based on scores on
the conflict scale. The mean score on the conflict subscale in
the normative sample was 3.18 (SD = 1.91), the internal con-
sistency (Cronbach’s α) was .75, and the two-month test-retest
reliability was .85 (Moos & Moos, 1986).
The Family Conflict Resolution Scale (FCRS) was devel-
oped to assess conflict resolution in the family. Items were
developed through a literature search that yielded several
measures with items that tapped into the construct of conflict
resolution, such as the CPIC (Grych, et al., 1992), the FES, and
the RCTS (Straus, et al., 1996; Straus, 1979). Items that ap-
peared appropriate from these measures served as models for
deve lopment of items on the FCRS. In addition, items were
rationally constructed that appeared content valid. A pool of
such items was created and reviewed by two graduate students
and a research supervisor. The reviewers compiled a total of 18
items deemed to be appropriate measures of family conflict
resolution. Of the 18 items, 17 are summed to provide a total
score for family conflict resolution. Of those, 14 items were
answered using a true/false response format. An example of
such an item would include “In my family, when we have an
argument we usually work it out.” Items 15, 16, and 17 are
answered using a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 “never” to
7 “always.” For example, item 15 states “We tend to avoid each
other when we have a disagreement.” The range of scores was
0-32, with higher scores indicating higher levels of conflict
resolution. The three items using a Likert scale were included
to ensure adequate variance on this preliminary version of the
scale. For the purposes of initial examination of the construct of
family conflict resolution in this project, a total score on the
FCRS was used in analyses, despite true/false and Likert items
being unevenly weighted in calculating the total score. The last
item on the measure (Item 18) required the respondent to
choose the category (avoidance of the problem, excessive yel-
ling, fighting, and/or arguing, or resolution and/or satisfactorily
solved) that best described how their family’s disagreements
were handled. This item was not included as a part of the total
score for family conflict resolution. It was used as a self-report,
categorical measure of how participants perceive conflict to be
typically addressed in their family.
The Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI; Derogatis & Spencer,
1982) is an abbreviated version of the Symptom Checklist-90-
Revised self-report measure of current psychiatric symptoms.
The Global Severity Index (GSI), which is an average of the
scores for the 53 BSI items, was used as an indicator of overall
level of distress and adjustment difficulty. Scores at or above a
T-score of 63 are considered clinically significant. The overall
t est-retest reliability for a two-week interval for the BSI is .90.
Cochran and Hale (1985) conducted a normative study for the
BSI using a young adult college sample. They found that young
adult college students reported significantly higher levels of
distress and different patterns of distress than younger adoles-
cents and older adults. The mean GSI for college males is .84
(SD = .55) and for college females is .71 (SD = .42).
The Langner Symptom Survey (LSS; Langner, 1962) was
used as a measure of overall current psychological maladjust-
ment. The LSS consists of 22 items that are scored 0 or 1, indi-
cating the presence or absence of a psychiatric symptom.
Langner reported that a cutoff score of four or greater differen-
tiated patients from non-patients and correctly identified 84%
of those with psychological difficulties. The mean score for
outpatients was 4.78 (SD = 3.27), for ex-patients 4.20 (SD =
3.35), and for non-patients 2.60 (SD = 2.67). The LSS has an
overall internal consistency (Cronbach’s α) of .80. Handal, Gist,
Gilner, and Searight (1993) reported that the LSS, using a cu-
toff score of four or more, accurately identified 82% of adoles-
cents not in treatment, 76% of adolescents in outpatient treat-
ment, and 79% of adolescents in inpatient treatment. Because
participants self-reported both perceived family conflict and
adjustment, the LSS was used to minimize common method
variance because of its strong concurrent validity data.
The Flanagan Life Satisfaction Questionnaire (FLSQ; Flanagan,
1978) was included as a measure of positive psychological
adjustment. Participants rated their overall satisfaction on 13
life domains using a 6-point Likert scale. Scores range from
13-78, with higher scores representing higher life satisfaction.
Handal and Moore (1987) established the concurrent validity of
the FLSQ when comparing it to the LSS.
Also included was a demographic questionnaire in order to
gather information concerning participants’ age, gender, year-
level in college, religion, race, residence, parental education
and occupation, parent’s marital status, and psychiatric history.
Following institutional review board approval, participants
were recruited from undergraduate psychology courses and
received extra credit as compensation for their participation. A
brief description of the study was read to psychology classes
and packets that included the previously described instruments
were distributed to individuals who wanted to participate. In
order to control for the possibility that sequencing of measures
might influence responding, two forms were developed (Form
A and Form B). Form A had items related to adjustment first
with items relating to family conflict and conflict resolution
following. Form B started with family conflict items, with
items related to adjustment following. Approximately 51% (N
= 171) of participants completed form A and approximately
49% (N = 161) completed form B. Sealed envelopes containing
the completed questionnaires were returned to the experimenter
before each class within one week after distribution.
Participant and Measure Characteristics
Using MANOVA, no significant effects were observed for
item order (form A or form B), gender, or grade level on the set
of dependent measures (the three adjustment measures, the
conflict measure, and the conflict resolution measure; Roskos,
2004). Consequently, data from form A and form B, for males
and females, and for all college grade levels were collapsed for
further analyses.
Table 1 includes means, standard deviations, and an inter-
correlation matrix for the collapsed sample on all dependent
variables. The sample mean for the GSI is consistent with the
reported findings of Cochran and Hale (1985) for college stu-
dents, which is higher than those reported for an adult popula-
tion. In addition, the mean family conflict score and the internal
consistency (α =.75) for this sample are consistent with the
mean and alpha reported by Moos and Moos (1986). Cron-
bach’s alpha coefficient was calculated to determine the inter-
nal consistency of the FCRS and the result was α = .87. This
suggests that the items that make up the FCRS have high inter-
nal consistency reliability.
Perceived Family Conflict
Analyses of conflict data in relation to measures of adjust-
ment were conducted in order to attempt to replicate relation-
ships previously observed in the literature. Participants were
divided into groups based on FES scores as follows: high con-
flict (>1 SD above the mean), middle conflict (within 1 SD
above and below the mean); and low conflict (> 1 SD below the
mean). As seen in Table 1, findings showed that family conflict
was significantly correlated with measures of psychological
maladjustment (LSS R = .35 and GSI R = .35) and negatively
correlated with a measure of life satisfaction (FLSQ R = .29).
Multivariate (MANOVA: Wilks’ λ = .89; F6, 654 = 6.37; p
< .001) and follow-up univariate analyses of variance showed
that a high conflict group was statistically and significantly
different from middle and low conflict groups (i .e. greater le-
vels of maladjustment) on both the LSS (F2, 329 = 16.75, p
< .001) and the GSI (F2, 329 = 15.62, p < .001), which is consis-
tent with findings from previous literature regarding the rela-
tionship between family conflict and psychological adjustment.
Perceived Family Conflict Resolution
In examining the construct validity of the FCRS, Pearson
correlation analyses were conducted. The correlation matrix is
displayed in Table 1. These results showed a statistically sig-
nificant negative correlation (R = .68) between family conflict
and a family conflict resolution. This would suggest that family
conflict and family conflict resolution are related, but some-
what distinct constructs. In addition, correlations between the
FCRS and measures of psychological maladjustment were
found to be statistically significant in a negative direction. On
the other hand, correlations between the FCRS and a measure
of positive adjustment were statistically significant in a positive
direction. These findings suggest significant relationships be-
tween family conflict resolution and psychological adjustment.
In order to establish if family conflict resolution relates to
outcome measures of adjustment at statistically significant and
clinically meaningful levels, a MANOVA was conducted using
high (greater than 1 SD above the mean), middle (within 1 SD
above and below the mean), and low (greater than 1 SD below
the mean) family conflict resolution groups as the fixed factor
and the three measures of adjustment as the dependent variables.
Results of those analyses yielded a statistically significant
MANOVA F: Wilks’ λ = .79, F = 13.36, p = .001. Follow-up
univariate one-way ANOVAs were conducted and yielded sig-
nificant differences on each of the three DVs. Consequently,
Table 1.
Sample descriptive statistics and correlation matrix for all dependent
Pearson Correlations
LSS 4.23
(3.42) 1.0 .75** .55** .35** .41**
GS I .7 4
(.59) 1.0 .61** .35** .42**
FSLQ 58.87
(11.91) 1.0 .29** .45**
FC 3.18
(2.28) 1 .0 .68**
FR 20.43
(6.74) 1.0
Note. LSS = Langner Symptom Survey; GSI = Global Severity Index; FSLQ =
Flanagan Satisfaction With Life Questionnaire; FC = Family Conflict; FR =
Family Resolution; **p < .01, two-tailed.
Tukey HSD post-hoc comparisons were performed to deter-
mine which conflict resolution groups differed on which DVs.
As can be seen in Table 2, in general, individuals with high
family conflict resolution showed lower levels of distress and
maladjustment and higher levels of life satisfaction and positive
adjustment. Scores on the LSS between high and low conflict
resolution groups were both statistically significant and clini-
cally meaningful because the low conflict resolution group
mean score was above the cutoff for clinical caseness on the
Using the same method to assign groups, a second MANOVA
was conducted to determine whether the 14-item true-false
conflict resolution scale, with the Likert items omitted, would
yield the same results as the full FCRS. Results showed a sig-
nificant MANOVA F (Wilks’ λ = .84, F6, 650 = 9.99, p < .001),
with there being similar results to the first MANOVA that in-
cluded Likert items in the FCRS score. However, the scores on
the 14-item FCRS were skewed in a positive direction, with
high FCRS scores (greater than 1 standard deviation above the
mean) including scores of 14, middle FCRS scores (between 1
standard deviation above and below the mean) ranging from 6
to 13 and low FCRS scores (greater than 1 standard deviation
below the mean) ranging from 0 to 5.
To examine the FCRS item content, a principal component
analysis was conducted. The categorical item from the instru-
ment was excluded from this analysis. The eigenvalue greater
than one criterion was used to choose factors and a cutoff of .50
was used to determine items that loaded onto a given factor.
Two factors were extracted, accounting for 53.18% of the va-
riance in the items after varimax rotation. All 17 items included
in the analysis loaded onto a factor, with only one item loading
onto both factors. The first factor included items that appeared
to address aspects of positive family conflict resolution com-
ing to a solution, effective communication, and discussion of
differences. The first factor also contained items that are repre-
sentative of neither positive nor negative resolution. Items such
as, “In my family, we can agree to disagree,” are neutral in their
implications for conflict resolution. The second factor consisted
of items that imply negative resolution. One item (“In my fam-
ily, we tend to resolve/solve our problems in a mutually satis-
fying way when we have a disagreement”) loaded on both fac-
tor 1 and factor 2. Table 3 provides the rotated factor loadings
and a summary of this principal component analysis.
Table 2.
ANOVA results for family conflict resolution and adjustment measures.
Measure F-Statistic Tukey HSD
group M SD
LSS 29.59*** L > M > H L (N = 57) 6.68 3.71
M (N = 205) 4.18 3.28
H (N = 70) 2.36 2.13
GS I 28.59*** L > M > H L (N = 57) 1.15 .60
M (N = 205) .73 .58
H (N = 70) .42 .38
FSLQ 31.73*** L < M < H L (N = 57) 50.25 9.97
M (N = 205) 58.91 11.94
H (N = 70) 65.79 11.91
Note. L = low conflict resolution group, M = middle conflict resolution group,
and H = high conflict resolution group; ***p < .001.
Table 3.
Rotated Factor Matrix for Family Conflict Resolution (FCRS).
FCRS items (all begin with stem: “In my family,”) Factor 1 Factor 2 Communalities
When we disagree on issues, we can come to a resolution/solution. .837 .190 .737
We can openly discuss our differences. .766 .141 .606
When we have an argument, we usually come to a resolution. .763 .256 .648
When we have an argument we usually work it out. .695 .293 .569
We can effectively communicate about issues. .680 .310 .559
When we disagree about something, we usually come up with a solution. .679 .350 .584
When we have a disagreement, we usually come to a mutually agreeable solution. .646 .355 .543
We tend to resolve/solve our problems in a mutually satisfying way when we have a disagree ment. .614 .523 .651
We can identify issues on which we differ. .608 <.100 .371
We usually can accept each other’s differences. .591 .269 .422
We can agree to disagree. .526 .157 .301
We still act mean after we have had an argument. .136 .755 .589
We tend to avoid each other when we have a disagreement. .170 .695 .512
Even after we stop arguing, we stay mad at each other. .233 .691 .531
After we stop arguing, we are friendly toward each other. .295 .670 .536
We tend to excessively yell, argue, and fight with each other when we have a disagreement. .173 .642 .442
When we argue we usually make up right away. .232 .621 .440
Rotated λ (eigenvalues) 5.34 3.70
% of total variance each component accounts for after the rotation 31.40 21.77
Note. V ar imax rotation solution presented. The extracted factors were named as follows: Factor 1: Positive/Neutral Family Conflict Resolution and Factor 2: Negative
Family Conflict Resolution.
Data were also analyzed from the categorical item on the
FCRS (item 18), which asked participants to determine how
conflict is typically addressed in their family. Participants re-
sponded to this item by identifying whether conflict in their
family is characterized by “avoidance,” “excessive conflict,” or
“resolution.” They were divided into avoidance, excessive con-
flict, or resolution groups for these analyses. A one-way MA-
NOVA was computed using avoidance, excessive conflict, and
resolution groups as the IV and measures of adjustment and
conflict as DVs. Results yielded a significant MANOVA:
Wilks’ λ = .67, F = 17.57, p < .001. Univariate one-way
ANOVAs were conducted as a follow-up showing significant
differences on each DV. These findings are reported in Table 4
with Tukey HSD post-hoc comparisons between groups.
As seen in Table 4, the conflict resolution group had greater
life satisfaction than either avoidance of conflict or excessive
conflict. On the other hand, avoidance and excessive conflict
groups had higher levels of maladjustment. Furthermore, it is
important to highlight that a difference between the excessive
conflict and avoidance groups on measures of maladjustment
and life satisfaction was not found. It is notable that results for
the LSS revealed that both the excessive (M = 5.55) and avoid-
ance (M = 5.23) groups scored in the clinically meaningful
distressed range compared to the resolution group (M = 3.37),
which scored in the non-distressed range. When examining the
Tukey HSD post-hoc comparisons when the family conflict
score served as the DV, it is evident that the resolution groups
had a significantly lower score on perceived conflict than the
avoidance group, who obtained a significantly lower score than
the excessive group.
In order to attempt to distinguish the constructs of conflict
resolution and conflict, a one-way ANOVA was conducted
using excessive, avoidance, and resolution groups as the IV and
conflict resolution scores as the DV. The rationale for this
analysis was that conflict scores for the excessive group were
significantly higher than the avoidance group, which had sig-
nificantly higher scores than the resolution group. In fact, the
Table 4.
ANOVA Results for Conflict Resolution Groups and Adjustment and
Conflict Measure s.
Measure F-Statistic Tukey HSD
comparisons Category M SD
LSS 15.80*** R < A, E A (N = 52) 5.23 3.78
E (N = 85) 5.55 3.70
R (N = 190) 3.37 2.94
GS I 19.31*** R < A, E A (N = 52) .99 .63
E (N = 85) .95 .65
R (N = 190) .58 .49
FSLQ 18.17*** R > A, E A (N = 52) 52.92 11.38
E (N = 85) 55.28 12.07
R (N = 190) 61.89 10.98
Conflict 63.46*** R < A < E A (N = 52) 3.62 2.07
E (N = 85) 5.06 2.18
R (N = 190) 2.23 1.80
Note. Conflict = family conflict score; A = avoidance group; E = excessive group;
and R = resolution group; ***p<.001.
mean conflict scores for the avoidance group was similar to the
sample mean. This suggests that the avoidance group would not
be at risk for maladjustment as a function of perceived conflict.
If conflict resolution is a distinct construct from perceived con-
flict, it was hypothesized that FCRS scores for the avoidance
and excessive groups would be significantly different (lower)
from the resolution group and that FCRS scores for the avoid-
ance and excessive groups would not differ. Results of the
analysis yielded a significant F (F2, 324 = 182.43, p < .001). Tu-
key HSD post-hoc comparisons were conducted and the results
of these analyses confirm the hypothesis that the resolution
group was significantly different from the avoidance and ex-
cessive groups, who were not significantly different from each
Dis cussion
This study aimed to develop a measure of family conflict
resolution (FCRS) and to provide preliminary reliability and
validity data. Items for this measure were either adapted from
existing measures with well-established reliability and validity
(e.g. CPIC and CTS2) or were rationally developed and incor-
porated into the measure using a peer review process.
Preliminary Psychometric Properties of the FCRS
The measure was found to have high internal consistency.
Additional analyses sought to address construct validity of the
measure and it was found that FCRS scores were negatively
correlated with measures of conflict. These results suggest that
the measures of conflict resolution and conflict tap into distinct,
but related constructs. FCRS scores were found to have signifi-
cant negative correlations with measures of maladjustment and
significant positive correlations with a measure of life satisfac-
tion, lending support to its convergent construct validity.
Furthermore, high, middle, and low FCRS scores were found
to be related to measures of positive and negative adjustment at
both statistically significant and clinically meaningful levels.
This indicates that low levels of family conflict resolution were
related to higher levels of maladjustment and high levels of
family conflict resolution were associated lower levels of ma-
ladjustment. Results also showed that high family conflict res-
olution was associated with high levels of life satisfaction, or
positive adjustment.
In examining the item content of the FCRS, principal com-
ponent analysis yielded two factors: positive/neutral resolution
and negative resolution. It can be argued that neutral items
should not be grouped with positive resolution items. In fact,
neutral resolution items might not be considered useful because
high scores on the FCRS should be indicative of high levels of
positive resolution (factor 1) and low scores should imply high
levels of negative resolution (factor 2). For the instrument to
serve this purpose, items that appear neutral and that load on
the neutral factor need to be revised or removed.
Conflict and Conflict Resolution: Are These Distinct
Previous unpublished research (Roskos, 2004) has shown a
pattern of correlations between perceived conflict and adjust-
ment that is similar to the pattern of correlations between fami-
ly conflict resolution and adjustment found in this study. Addi-
tionally, the statistically and clinically meaningful relationships
between high, middle, and low conflict groups and adjustment
are also similar to high, middle, and low family conflict resolu-
tion group relationships with adjustment. This raises the ques-
tion: are perceived conflict and family conflict resolution ac-
tually distinct constructs that are being measured? The distinc-
tion between these constructs was demonstrated in this study by
the analysis of conflict and FCRS scores for the avoidance,
excessive, and resolution groups. Due to the fact that excessive,
avoidance, and resolution groups differentially predict conflict
and conflict resolution scores, there appears to be some distinc-
tion between these constructs. These results also may indicate a
measure of conflict resolution (e.g. the FCRS) may better detect
individuals in the avoidance group who may be at risk for ma-
ladjustment. This suggests that it is important to assess both
conflict and conflict resolution in order to accurately make
clinical judgments regarding psychological adjustment when
working with children, adolescents, young adults, and their
Clinical Relevance of Conflict Resolution and Conflict
Beyond the goal of initiating the development of a measure
of family conflict resolution, this study also examined conflict
avoidance and its relationship with perceived conflict and posi-
tive and negative aspects of adjustment. The conflict avoidance
group reported average levels of perceived conflict but ex-
ceeded the cutoff score for the identification of distress or ma-
ladjustment. Typically, research and clinical work has focused
on expressed conflict, but based on these results, it appears that
conflict avoidance is associated with maladjustment. Our re-
sults indicate that those who self-report avoidance of conflict
do not perceive excessive conflict to exist, but are clearly at risk
for maladjustment. To our knowledge, measures of family con-
flict are not necessarily screening for avoidance of conflict as a
potential problem. Based on these results, avoidance of conflict
may be a clinically meaningful risk factor for maladjustment
that warrants additional inquiry.
Although examination of moderator effects was not the focus
of this study, it is proposed that conflict resolution has the po-
tential to serve as a buffer against maladjustment. The resolu-
tion group means were consistently below the clinical cutoff
score on the LSS and were always clinically and statistically
lower than both the excessive and avoidance group means on
measures of maladjustment. Individuals who viewed their fami-
lies as resolving conflict were less likely to be maladjusted and
more likely to be satisfied with their lives than those who
viewed their families as having either excessive conflict or as
avoiding conflict. Conflict resolution, therefore, is related to
adjustment and further research into the nature of this relation-
ship needs to be conducted.
Methodological Issues
The greatest methodological limitation of this study is that
data were collected retrospectively using only self-report meas-
ures. But, this study addressed research questions that were
unique and aimed to build on existing family research by tap-
ping into aspects of family conflict that have been recognized
as in need of empirical examination (specifically, conflict reso-
lution). Additionally, there are several methodological strengths
that improve the study’s robustness. The statistical power of the
study was adequate due to the large sample size and the relia-
bility and validity of the measures used were strong. It is also
important to note that the sample means on all measures used in
this study were near the normative means for the instruments in
this age group. This allows the results to more easily be applied
to young adults in a general fashion. Finally, psychological
adjustment was assessed using multiple measures of the same
construct (LSS and GSI).
Future Directions
Future directions would require additional study of the prop-
erties of the FCRS. Our analysis of the FCRS showed similar
findings in relation to measures of adjustment using two dif-
ferent scoring methods, but the distribution of scores was sig-
nificantly skewed when Likert items were not included in the
total score. This study provides the impetus for further devel-
opment and for a more rigorous evaluation of the measure be-
ing proposed. Different scoring strategies for the measure need
to be explored due to the fact that the total score is based on
differentially weighted items. Subsequent steps might be to
further examine the properties of the true/false items and Likert
items independently, or consider adapting the measure so that
all items are in a Likert format. When scoring methodology is
clarified, examination of the psychometric properties with fur-
ther scrutiny is warranted (i .e. test-retest reliability), as well as
cross-validation studies of the FCRS in younger samples. Fol-
lowing refinement of the measure or development of other
measures, researchers might explore the effects of successful
conflict resolution as a mediator or moderator variable (resi-
liency factor) in the relationship between conflict and malad-
justment. Examination of these variables in a clinical sample
might better inform practitioners of their implications and utili-
ty in a clinical setting.
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