Journal of social and personal relationships vol:12 issue:1 pages:27-48
Conflict management was studied in 21 eating-disordered (ED) patients and their husbands, 21 maritally distressed (MD) and 21 non-distressed (ND) couples. On the Problem List (Hahlweg et al., 1980) ED couples reported significantly more conflict topics than ND couples, yet fewer than MD couples. The interaction during a conflict discussion was videotaped and the (verbal and nonverbal) components were rated according to the KPI coding system (Hahlweg et al., 1984). Contradicting the prediction of an unequal dominance structure, the observed interactions appeared to be more symmetrical in ED couples than in both control groups. The former also showed less positive escalation than ND couples, and less negative escalation than MD ones, and a striking tendency to neutralize conflicts. The interaction pattern most typically encountered in ED couples was asymmetric negative, with one partner acting increasingly negative and the other counteracting the escalation.