R. Raudeliūnaitė, G. Čiuladienė

Mykolas Romeris University (LITHUANIA)
Conflict behaviour is implicitly or explicitly directed at realizing outcome allocations. Integrative conflict behaviour is directed at maximizing the outcomes for the conflicting parties together, whereas distributive conflict behaviour is directed at maximizing the outcomes for one party, minimizing the outcomes for the other party (or both). Conflict resolution preferences develop over a person’s lifetime based on a complicated blend of genetics, life experiences, family background, and personal philosophy (Wilmot & Hocker 2001). Among the variables that can potentially influence the cooperativeness and assertiveness of a participant is difference in age.

Cognitive-developmental theory suggests that the abilities for resolving conflicts should improve with age. In line with the theory the most researchers suggest that conflict resolution skills are getting higher with age (Laursen et al. 2001; Laursen 1993, Owens et al. 2005, Smetana et al. 2003, Noakes & Rinaldi 2006, Bjorkqvist 1994, Missotten et al. 2011; Van Doorn et al. 2008). However, the results aren’t consistent. Tucker et al. (2003) found that older adolescents reported less constructive conflict resolution with parents. Jensen-Campbell and Graziano (2000) found that compromise in daughter–mother relationships is higher for older adolescents than for younger adolescents, but found the opposite for son–mother relationships and failed to find an effect of age with regard to adolescents’ positive problem solving with fathers.

The present study is designed to explore the role that age differences play in relation to types of distributive conflict resolution strategies that are used by younger and older adolescents. Empirical studies were carried out among youth of gymnasium schools and Mykolas Romeris University (Lithuania). A total of 824 students took part in the study. The group included 586 pupils (ap. 15 years old younger adolescents) and 238 students (ap. 21 years old older adolescents). The survey contained questions asking the students to rate the aspects of their conflict behavior experiences.

The survey consisted of two sections:
1) conflicts with peers;
2) conflicts with teachers.

Respondents were asked to rate each item on a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (not at all) to 5 (always), keeping in mind how often the type of behavior described by the item occurred during their disagreements with 1) peers; with 2) school/university teachers.

As there were investigating the usage of distributive strategies in the study it reveals that avoiding is the most frequent of them, forcing – the least frequently used strategy while handling conflicts. According to results age of adolescence is a factor differentiating distributive strategies of youth in a social conflict situation. The obtained results indicate that as the adolescents age the level of the forcing strategy in a social conflict situation is getting lower. The analysis of the collected empirical material shows that the level of accommodating and avoiding strategies increases with age of the adolescent youth. Overall there was a greater use of accommodating in the unequal power dyads; forcing – in the equal power dyads; but avoiding strategy does not show meaningful difference with friends and teachers. Knowledge on the manifestation of these strategies is needed to manage their prevalence.