Date of Award

Spring 2018

Project Type

Thesis

College or School

COLA

Department

Psychology

Program or Major

Psychology

Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

John D. Mayer

Second Advisor

Ellen S. Cohn

Third Advisor

Robert Eckstein

Abstract

Conflict is an inevitable occurrence in most romantic relationships given that most couples enter their relationships with a variety of backgrounds, opinions, and experiences. Previous research has implicated a number of variables that influence how couples navigate conflict resolution, including attachment style, conflict style, and certain facets of the Big Five socioemotional traits. The present research explores whether personal intelligence, or the ability to reason about the personality, traits, goals, and motives of others also plays a role in how individuals approach conflict resolution in their romantic relationships. Given that individuals who are high in personal intelligence are better at understanding others, they may be better able to solve problems they encounter in their interactions with others, such as conflict. In an exploratory study, I demonstrated that personal intelligence predicts both positive and negative indicators of conflict in relationships, using both traditional self-judgment, narrative, and lifespace measures of conflict. Results suggests that individuals who are better able to reason about others tend to approach conflict – and their relationships more generally – in a more positive manner than individuals who struggle to understand others.

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