Reese-Weber, M. & Bartle-Haring, S. (1998). Conflict resolution styles in family subsystems and adolescent romantic relationships. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 27, 735-752.
Many studies confirm that an individual’s patterns of conflict resolution, both positive and negative, can develop from their family of origin and be generalized to how conflict is managed in other relationships (O’Leary, 1988; Patterson, Reid, & Dishion, 1992; Rubenstein and Feldman, 1993).
The purpose of this study by Reese-Weber & Bartle-Haring, was to examine how related are conflict resolution styles within family subsystems and how conflict resolution styles within the family are related to conflict resolution styles in one relationship outside the family, identified as adolescents’ romantic relationships. Based on previous research, the researchers submitted their hypotheses. Through a sample of convenience by means of a 22-item questionnaire, 217 late adolescents, 144 females and 73 males, reported their perceptions of resolution styles used in interparent, mother-adolescent, father-adolescent, sibling, and romantic-couple conflicts. Path analyses, based on 163 cases with complete data, revealed both direct and indirect relationships between and among these dyads.
In this critical review, I will reflect on how the researchers attempted to link family to non-family resolution styles and what could have been done better. Through a quantitative study, with strengths and limitations, backed by a nauseating result reporting and an amount of highlighted literature, the researchers extend existing contribution and set the ball rolling for more expanded research to take place in the field of conflict resolution styles, even though the participants’ narrative is missing.
Featuring in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Vol. 27, No. 6, 1998, the research paper’s title, Conflict resolution styles in family subsystems and adolescent romantic relationships, indicates what the paper is all about, that is, conflict resolution styles. Although the variables of the family subsystems are not listed in the title, it comes quite natural for the reader to understand that the authors are referring to interparent, mother-son/daughter, father-son/daughter and sibling conflicts. Reviewing the whole paper and approaching the title with a critical stance, it lacks the relational aspect of the conflict resolution styles examined. Thus, a better title would be ‘Relating conflict resolution styles in family subsystems and adolescent romantic relationships’. This would better intertwine with the paper’s abstract which declares a two-fold purpose of the study “to examine how conflict resolution styles between one family dyad is related to other family dyads and how conflict resolution styles within these family dyads are related to those in adolescents’ romantic relationships”, with the keyword, emerging twice, being ‘related’.
Underneath the title, the two authors are clearly written, and through separate footnotes, the reader is immediately briefed with their professional and academic qualifications, and also with their major research interests. The abstract provides a succinct summary of the contents of the paper. After reading it, the reader knows the purpose of the paper, how it was carried out, and what was accomplished through the main findings. The introduction, which orientates the reader to the study, includes the literature review, which refers to previous contributions in literature. In the discussion, the authors also attempt to use a theoretical framework, referring to the systems theory, which although relevant, is not enough. Studying family relations and conflicts, the authors could have referred to other like behaviour theories, social learning and social identity theories and conflict theories.
Research, before this study, has not examined the link between resolution styles in the family and within...
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