Voicing conflict: preferred conflict strategies among incremental and entity theorists

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2006 Nov;32(11):1497-508. doi: 10.1177/0146167206291476.


The way individuals choose to handle their feelings during interpersonal conflicts has important consequences for relationship outcomes. In this article, the authors predict and find evidence that people's implicit theory of personality is an important predictor of conflict behavior following a relationship transgression. Incremental theorists, who believe personality can change and improve, were likely to voice their displeasure with others openly and constructively during conflicts. Entity theorists, who believe personality is fundamentally fixed, were less likely to voice their dissatisfactions directly. These patterns were observed in both a retrospective study of conflict in dating relationships (Study 1) and a prospective study of daily conflict experiences (Study 2). Study 2 revealed that the divergence between incremental and entity theorists was increasingly pronounced as conflicts increased in severity: the higher the stakes the stronger the effect.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Love
  • Male
  • Psychological Theory
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Perception*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires