Sex Roles

pp 1–8 | Cite as

Adolescents’ Endorsement of Communal and Agentic Conflict-Management Strategies with Friends and Romantic Partners

  • Emily KeenerEmail author
  • JoNell Strough
  • Lisa DiDonato
Original Article


To investigate contextual influences on gender differences and similarities, we compared adolescents’ endorsement of gender-typed communal/other-focused and agentic/self-focused conflict-management strategies in three relationship contexts: same-gender friends, other-gender friends, and other-gender heterosexual romantic partners. Our 2 Participant Gender (between-subjects) × 3 Relationship Context (within-subjects) mixed factorial design addressed whether findings of prior research (Keener and Strough 2017) with college-aged participants would generalize to adolescents. Participants (n = 103; 47 male adolescents; 56 female adolescents, 14–17 years-old) from the U.S. South Atlantic and Middle Atlantic regions read nine hypothetical conflict scenarios (three per each relationship context) and rated their likelihood of using gender-typed strategies. Young women and men endorsed communal and agentic strategies significantly more in same- and other-gender friendships than in romantic relationships. Across all three relationship contexts, young women reported using significantly more agentic strategies than young men did. In contrast to previous research on college students (Keener and Strough 2017), the predicted Participant Gender x Relationship Context interaction was not significant in the present study. Our findings suggest that developmental processes such as age differences in gender socialization and lack of experience with romantic relationships might explain why findings from college students did not generalize to adolescents.


Gender, romantic partner Friendship Adolescence Communal Agency Peer conflict Conflict management Relationship types Strategies Interpersonal problem solving 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

The authors are collectively responsible for the contents of this manuscript, which was prepared in accordance with the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association.

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (DOCX 36 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologySlippery Rock UniversitySlippery RockUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyFrederick Community CollegeFrederickUSA

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