Effects of daily hassles on couples' conflict resolution styles

Open Access
Mengle, Emily Terese
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Alysia Blandon, Thesis Supervisor
  • Cynthia Huang Pollock, Honors Advisor
  • stress
  • daily hassles
  • conflict resolution
  • marital relationships
  • respiratory sinus arrhythmia
Past research has shown stress to have harmful effects on marital interactions (Buck & Neff, 2012). This study examined the association between daily hassles and conflict resolution styles in married couples. Additionally, the moderating effect of baseline respiratory sinus arrhythmia was assessed as physiological regulation has been linked to behavior in social interactions (Porges, 2001). Gender differences between husbands and wives’ daily hassles and conflict resolution styles were also explored as past research has noted distinctions in stress expression (Neff & Karney, 2004). Cross-spousal effects were also examined to see if spouses’ stress levels predicted their partners’ conflict resolution styles. It was hypothesized that greater daily hassles would be positively associated with more maladaptive conflict resolution styles and that baseline RSA would moderate those associations. Higher baseline RSA was predicted to be associated with more adaptive conflict resolution styles, whereas, lower baseline RSA was predicted to be associated with more maladaptive conflict resolution styles. Participants were married couples (n = 70) with two children between the ages of two and five. Husbands and wives completed questionnaires on components of their marital relationship. Their baseline RSA was also measured when they came into the laboratory. Results indicated that daily hassles were a predictor of husbands’ own conflict resolution styles. There was also evidence of cross-spousal effects of daily hassles predicting certain conflict resolution styles. Moderating effects of baseline RSA were mixed. These findings highlighted the importance of stress, particularly husbands’ stress, in shaping marital interactions.