Cognitive processes and conflict in close relationships: an attribution-efficacy model.


A recently proposed model of cognitive processes underlying conflict in close relationships (Doherty, 1978, 1981a, 1981b) is revised and tested in two studies. Central to the original model are the causal attributions made for conflict and the perceived efficacy or ability to resolve conflict. The model is revised to incorporate judgments of responsibility and to provide a closer link to self-efficacy theory. The first study examines attributions and efficacy expectations in mother-child relationships. As anticipated, only weak evidence was obtained for predictions retained from the original model, high-lighting the relationship-specific nature of cognitive processes for conflict in families. A second study examines husband-wife relationships and provides evidence for the usefulness of an attribution-efficacy model for marital conflict. The attributional component of the model received greater support than that pertaining to efficacy expectations. In both studies, support was obtained for the proposal that the relation between conflict dimensions (e.g., blame) and causal dimensions is mediated by judgments of responsibility. The significance of the revisions to Doherty's model for understanding conflict in close relationships is discussed, and several avenues for further research are outlined.

Cite this paper

@article{Fincham1987CognitivePA, title={Cognitive processes and conflict in close relationships: an attribution-efficacy model.}, author={Frank D. Fincham and Thomas N. Bradbury}, journal={Journal of personality and social psychology}, year={1987}, volume={53 6}, pages={1106-18} }