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The Role of Personality in Task and Relationship Conflict


  • The authors thank Celine Hartwig for facilitating access to the sample, Huy Le for assistance with data preparation, and David Watson and William Graziano for their comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Joyce E. Bono, Department of Psychology, Elliott Hall, 75 East River Road, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Electronic mail may be sent to .


ABSTRACT Two studies explored the extent to which dispositions influence the attributions individuals make about the type of conflict they experience. Traits from the Five-Factor Model of personality (FFM) were linked to the tendency to experience task-and relationship-oriented conflict. Results provide some support for the idea that individuals have stable tendencies in the attributions they make about their conflict experiences across time, partners, and situations. Agreeableness and openness were related to reports of relationship conflict at the individual level. However, the strongest effects of personality on conflict attributions were found in the analysis of dyads. This analysis revealed that partner levels of extraversion and conscientiousness were associated with individuals' tendencies to report relationship conflict. Moreover, mean levels of extraversion and conscientiousness in a pair were associated with reports of relationship conflict. Differences between partners in extraversion were associated with more frequent conflict and a greater likelihood of reporting task-related conflict. Implications of these findings with respect to the role of personality in interpersonal relationships are discussed. Finally, these studies provide confirmatory evidence that conflict attributions have a meaningful impact on relationship satisfaction.