Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

College dating couples' use of conflict management during a prisoner's dilemma task: An exploratory study
by Waldemayer, Kristen Elise, Ph.D., University of Montana, 2011, 175; 3495272
Abstract (Summary)

Dating violence that occurs in young college-aged couples is unique when compared to other types of violence. Aggression occurring in these couples is often bidirectional, highly impacted by situational stressors, and perpetrated by both males and females at relatively equal rates. Most importantly, dating aggression occurs within a developmental context when individuals are attempting to balance autonomy and intimacy within their relationships. However, little is known about conflict management within dating couples or if conflict management processes differ substantially for aggressive and nonaggressive dating couples. Although there has been extensive research in marital processes in conflict, only recently have researchers argued the need for conflict management of young, dating couples to be studied in a dynamic way (Capaldi, Kim, & Shortt, 2007). For this study, a computer administered version of the iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma game was used as a tool for elicitation and observation of conflict behavior of young, dating couples. Specific in-game responding including negative escalation (termed defection spirals), cooperation, and repair were examined both quantitatively and qualitatively. In addition to the Prisoner’s Dilemma game, participants completed questionnaires regarding personal history, current mood, and information on their dating relationship. A cross-sectional sample of college couples (N = 40 couples) was used and group membership (either aggressive or non-aggressive) was determined by endorsement of items on the Revised Conflict Tactic Scales (Straus, Hamby, Boney-McCoy, & Sugarman, 1996). Findings suggest aggressive and non-aggressive couples’ perceptions and approach to the Prisoner’s Dilemma game differed significantly. Primary hypotheses regarding differences between groups on the use of defection, cooperation, and repair over time (Group x Time interactions) were not supported by the data. However, aggressive and non-aggressive couples differed significantly on their use of defection and cooperation responses. For example, aggressive couples used more defection responses throughout the Prisoner’s Dilemma game while non-aggressive couples used more cooperative responses. Descriptive analysis of game patterns by group indicated differing patterns for aggressive and non-aggressive couples. In addition, exploratory hypotheses examining the relationship between the Prisoner’s Dilemma game and aggressiveness towards one’s partner were significant, thus, adding to the literature in this area. Implications of these findings and future research are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Schuldberg, David
Commitee: Denis, Daniel, Doyle, Daniel, Fiore, Christine, Waltz, Jennifer
School: University of Montana
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Montana
Source: DAI-B 73/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Analogue, College dating couples, Dating violence, Game theory, Intimate partner violence, Prisoner's dilemma game
Publication Number: 3495272
ISBN: 9781267185396
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