Two types of disengagement during couples' conflicts: withdrawal and passive immobility

Psychol Assess. 2015 Mar;27(1):203-14. doi: 10.1037/pas0000045. Epub 2014 Nov 17.


A series of 3 studies using nonclinical samples investigated validity associated with the Conflict Disengagement Inventory (CDI), a questionnaire developed to measure passive immobility and withdrawal as context-specific forms of disengagement in couples' conflicts. In the first study, 2,588 married participants completed the CDI, and an expected 2-dimensional factor structure was confirmed. Additionally, results demonstrated measurement invariance across racial/ethnic and gender groups. In the second study, 223 adults in committed romantic relationships completed the CDI along with measures of attachment, emotion, underlying concerns, withdrawal, relationship expectations, relationship satisfaction, and communication behavior. Although the disengagement scales were moderately correlated, the results provided consistent evidence of convergent and divergent validity. In the third study, a sample of 135 undergraduate students in romantic relationships completed the CDI and measures of emotion on up to 5 separate assessment sessions, with sessions spaced at least 2 weeks apart. Analyses of within-person effects using hierarchical linear modeling provide evidence that the CDI captures meaningful variance at the context-specific level. There was substantial variance within persons across different episodes of conflict and within-person changes in disengagement predicted corresponding within-person changes in emotion.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Conduct Disorder
  • Emotions
  • Family Conflict / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Negotiating*
  • Object Attachment
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Psychological Distance*
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Young Adult