Interpersonal Conflict, Agreeableness, and Personality Development


  • We thank Shaun D. Campbell for his help with computer programming and Doran French, William G. Graziano, and Gary Lautenschlager, for advice on aspects of this research. We thank Denise Benkert, Tina Burns, Janine Furdella, Jeff Garbe, Adair Garner, Lee Haiber, Susan Levitt, Justin Rigsbee, Jasmin Rios, and Martina Soltez who provided help in completing the data collection. We also thank Michael Bilton, Dan Wilcox, Jessica Faiella, Kim Mathieson, Julie Norman, Heather O'Hara-Bassuk, Neha Patel, Yanisha Willis, Jasmin Rios, Jose Velarde, and Amber Zehnder for all of their pain-staking work coding the conflict observations. We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the faculty and students of A.D. Henderson University School, St. Bernadette's School, Davie Elementary, Griffin Elementary, Nova Southeastern Elementary, and St. Ambrose School. A National Institute of Mental Health B/Start Grant to L.A. Jensen-Campbell supported parts of this research. Communications about this research may be directed to L.A. Jensen-Campbell, Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Arlington, Box 19528, Arlington, Texas 76019-0528. Tel.: 817-272-5191, e-mail:


Abstract This multimethod research linked the Big-Five personality dimensions to interpersonal conflict in childhood. Agreeableness was the personality dimension of focus because this dimension has been associated with maintaining positive interpersonal relations in adolescents and adults. In two studies, elementary school children were assessed on the Big-Five domains of personality. Study 1 (n=276) showed that agreeableness was uniquely associated with endorsements of conflict resolution tactics in children as well as parent and teacher reports of coping and adjustment. Study 2 (n=234) revealed that children's perceptions of themselves and others during conflict was influenced by their agreeableness regardless of their partner's agreeableness. Observers also reported that pairs higher in agreeableness had more harmonious, constructive conflicts. Overall findings suggest that of the Big-Five dimensions, agreeableness is most closely associated with processes and outcomes related to interpersonal conflict and adjustment in children.