Family-of-origin experiences and conflict resolution behaviors of young adult dating couples

Fam Process. 1997 Sep;36(3):297-310. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.1997.00297.x.


This study was conducted to explore the relationship among retrospective reports of family-of-origin functioning, reported perceptions of a laboratory-based conflict resolution discussion, and outsiders' ratings of communication behaviors between young adult dating couples, with a special focus on predicted gender differences. Sixty-three couples aged 18 to 24 participated in this study. A Revealed Differences task was used to elicit discussion about an issue identified as discordant for the couple on a Relationship Issue Questionnaire. Family-of-origin variables were related to both men's and women's perceptions of the conflict, as well as outsiders' ratings of their conflict resolution behaviors. However, the conflict resolution behaviors and perceptions of men and women were associated with distinctly different aspects of functioning in their families of origin. Further, women's families-of-origin factors were more prominent for the couples' communication behaviors because they indicated a greater number of significant correlations between the women's families of origin and: 1) perceptions of the conflict resolution discussion by both the men and women, and 2) the observed conflict resolution behaviors of both men and women. These findings are discussed in the context of both the relevant research and important social-political influences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Courtship*
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Behavior
  • Surveys and Questionnaires