, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 749–758 | Cite as

Mindfulness, Conflict Strategy Use, and Relational Satisfaction: a Dyadic Investigation

  • Jacquelyn HarveyEmail author
  • John Crowley
  • Alesia Woszidlo


Research suggests that the capacity to be mindful is positively associated with constructive conflict strategy use and negatively associated with destructive conflict strategy use when individuals experience disagreement with a romantic partner. Conflict interactions are inherently dyadic however, signifying the importance of investigating whether a person’s own capacity for mindfulness is associated with their partner’s choice of conflict strategy. This exploratory study investigated whether individual’s mindful awareness had an association with partner conflict strategy use for 169 heterosexual couples. We assessed couple member’s mindfulness, conflict strategy use, and relational satisfaction. Actor-partner interdependence models (APIM) suggested that male mindfulness positively predicted their likelihood of compromising during conflict. Male mindfulness was also positively associated with female relationship satisfaction. Female mindfulness, on the other hand, predicted a lower likelihood of male dominance and reactivity during conflict. Actor-partner mediation models (APIMeM) suggested significant actor-actor effects such that mindfulness was positively associated with one’s own use of compromise, which in turn positively predicted one’s own relationship satisfaction. In addition, female mindfulness predicted lower male reactivity, which predicted higher male satisfaction. Implications and future research are discussed from a dyadic perspective.


Mindfulness Interpersonal conflict Relational satisfaction Dyadic data analysis 


Author Contributions

JH: designed and executed the study, assisted with data analyses, created Tables 1 and 2, wrote and edited portions of the manuscript

JC: wrote the introduction, assisted in data collection, and edited versions of the manuscript

AW: ran the dyadic analyses, wrote the results section, and created the graphs

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures performed involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. IRB approval for this study was obtained at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and the University of Washington. Informed consent was obtained from all participants in the study. Data for this study have not been reported elsewhere, nor used in prior research.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Arnold, H. J., & Feldman, D. C. (1981). Social desirability bias in self-report choice situations. The Academy of Management Journal, 24(2), 377–385.Google Scholar
  2. Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Hopkins, J., Krietemeyer, J., & Toney, L. (2006). Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13, 27–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnes, S., Brown, K. W., Krusemark, E., Keith Campbell, W., & Rogge, R. D. (2007). The role of mindfulness in romantic relationship satisfaction and responses to relationship stress. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33, 482–500.
  4. Bevan, J. (2014). Dyadic perceptions of goals, conflict strategies, and perceived resolvability in serial arguments. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 31, 773–795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Block-Lerner, J., Adair, C., Plumb, J. C., Rhatigan, D. L., & Orsillo, S. M. (2007). The case for mindfulness-based approaches in the cultivation of empathy: does nonjudgmental present-moment awareness increase capacity for perspective-taking and concern? Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33(4), 501–516. Scholar
  6. Brown, L. M., & Gilligan, C. (1993). Meeting at the crossroads: women’s psychology and development. Feminism and Psychology, 3, 11–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822–848. Scholar
  8. Burgoon, J. K., Berger, C. R., & Waldron, V. R. (2000). Mindfulness and interpersonal communication. Journal of Social Issues, 56(1), 105–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carlo, G., Raffaelli, M., Laible, D. J., & Meyer, K. A. (1999). Why are girls less physically aggressive than boys? Personality and parenting mediators of aggression. Sex Roles, 40, 711–729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carson, J. W., Carson, K. M., Gil, K. M., & Baucom, D. H. (2004). Mindfulness-based relationship enhancement. Behavior Therapy, 35, 471–494. Scholar
  11. Fruzzetti, A. E., & Worrall, J. M. (2004). Accurate expression and validating responses: a transactional model for understanding individual and relationship distress. In S. F. Hayes, V. M. Follette, & M. M. Linehan (Eds.), Mindfulness and acceptance (pp. 121–150). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  12. Gottman, J. M. (1994). What predicts divorce? New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  13. Gottman, J. M. (1995). Why marriages succeed or fail. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  14. Gottman, J. M., & Levenson, R. W. (2000). The timing of divorce: predicting when a couple will divorce over a 14-year period. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 737–745.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gross, M. A., & Guerrero, L. K. (2000). Appropriateness and effectiveness of organizational conflict styles: an application of the competence model to Rahim’s conflict inventory. International Journal of Conflict, 11, 200–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grossman, P. (2011). Defining mindfulness by how poorly I think I pay attention during everyday awareness and other intractable problems for psychology’s (re)invention of mindfulness: comment on Brown et al. (2011). Psychological Assessment, 23(4), 1034–1040. Scholar
  17. Haase, C. M., Bloch, L., Holley, S. R., Verstaen, A., & Levenson, R. W. (2016). Interpersonal emotional behaviors and physical health: a 20-year longitudinal study of long-term married couples. Emotion, 16(7), 965–977. Scholar
  18. Harvey-Knowles, J. A., Manusov, V., & Crowley, J. (2015). Minding your matters: predicting satisfaction, commitment, and conflict strategies from trait mindfulness. Interpersona, 9, 44. Scholar
  19. Hocker, J. L., & Wilmot, W. W. (1998). Interpersonal conflict (5th ed.). Dubuque: Brown & Benchmark.Google Scholar
  20. Jones, S. M., Bodie, G. D., & Hughes, S. D. (2016). The impact of mindfulness on empathy, active listening, and perceived provisions of emotional support. Communication Research, 1–28.
  21. Karremans, J. C., Schellekens, M. P. J., & Kappen, G. (2017). Bridging the sciences of mindfulness and romantic relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 21, 29–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kenny, D. A., Kashy, D. A., & Cook, W. L. (2006). Dyadic data analysis. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  23. Khoury, B., Sharma, M., Rush, S. E., & Fournier, C. (2015). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for healthy individuals: a meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 78(6), 519–529. Scholar
  24. Kiken, L. G., Garland, E. L., Bluth, K., Palsson, O. S., & Gaylord, S. A. (2015). From a state to a trait: trajectories of state mindfulness in meditation during intervention predict changes in trait mindfulness. Personality and Individual Differences, 81, 41–46. Scholar
  25. La Valley, A. G., & Guerrero, L. K. (2012). Perceptions of conflict behavior and relational satisfaction in adult parent-child relationships: a dyadic analysis from an attachment perspective. Communication Research, 39(1), 48–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ledermann, T., Macho, S., & Kenny, D. A. (2011). Assessing mediation in dyadic data using the actor-partner interdependence model. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 18, 595–612. Scholar
  27. Lennon, R., & Eisenberg, N. (1987). Gender and age differences in empathy and sympathy. In N. Eisenber & J. Strayer (Eds.), Empathy and its development (pp. 195–217). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Little, T. D. (2013). Longitudinal structural equation modeling. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  29. Little, T. D., Rhemtulla, M., Gibson, K., & Schoemann, A. M. (2013). Why the items versus parcels controversy needn’t be one. Psychological Models, 18, 285–300. Scholar
  30. McGill, J., Adler-Baeder, F., & Rodriguez, P. (2016). Mindfully in love: a meta-analysis of the association between mindfulness and relationship satisfaction. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 4(1), 89–101.Google Scholar
  31. Reevy, G. M., & Maslach, C. (2001). Use of social support: gender and personality differences. Sex Roles, 44, 437–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Richardson, D. R., Hammock, G. S., & Smith, S. M. (1994). Empathy as a cognitive inhibitor of interpersonal aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 24, 275–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rizkalla, L., Werheim, E. H., & Hodgson, L. K. (2008). The roles of emotion management and perspective-taking in individuals’ conflict management styles and disposition to forgive. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 1594–1601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Roloff, M. E., & Ifert, D. E. (2000). Conflict management through avoidance: withholding complaints, suppressing arguments, and declaring topics taboo. In S. Petronio (Ed.), Balancing the secrets of private disclosures (pp. 151–163). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  35. Rusbult, C. E., Martz, J. M., & Agnew, C. R. (1998). The investment model scale: measuring commitment level, satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size. Personal Relationships, 5, 353–387. Scholar
  36. Sauer, S., Walach, H., Schmidt, S., Hinterberger, T., Lynch, S., Bussing, A., & Kohls, N. (2013). Assessment of mindfulness: review on the state of the art. Mindfulness, 4, 3–17. Scholar
  37. Sillars, A., Canary, D. J., & Tafoya, M. (2004). Communication, conflict, and the quality of family relationships. In A. L. Vangelisti (Ed.), Handbook of family communication (pp. 413–446). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  38. Wachs, K., & Cordova, J. V. (2007). Mindful relating: exploring mindfulness and emotion repertoires in intimate relationships. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33(4), 464–481. Scholar
  39. Wong, S. Y., Chan, F. W., Wong, R. L., Chu, M. C., Kitty, L., Mercer, S. W., & Ma, S. H. (2011). Comparing the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction and multidisciplinary intervention programs for chronic pain: a randomized controlled trial. The Clinical Journal of Pain, 27(8), 724–734. Scholar
  40. Zacchilli, T. L., Hendrick, C., & Hendrick, S. (2009). The romantic partner conflict scale: a new scale to measure conflict in dating relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26, 1073–1096. Scholar
  41. Zeidan, F., Johnson, S. K., Gordon, N. S., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). Effects of brief and sham mindfulness m9editation on mood and cardiovascular variables. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(8), 867–873. Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CommunicationUniversity of Minnesota-DuluthDuluthUSA
  2. 2.Department of CommunicationUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Communication StudiesUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

Personalised recommendations