Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services

First Advisor

Kara B. Wettersten


The present study explored the development and initial validation of measure of conflict management, a skill often taught in school-based social-emotional learning (SEL) programs. There is a gap in existing scales that measure conflict management skills for children and adolescents. The scales that do exist for children or adolescents (CONFLICTALK, Kimsey & Fuller, 2003; Conflict Resolution Styles Inventory [CRSI], Bonache et al., 2016) often measure conflict styles rather than skills, do not have a theoretical basis, and or have limited norming information or are normed on populations (and languages) outside of the United States.

Our purpose was to develop and provide initial norming and validity information for the Conflict Management Skills Belief Scale (CMSBS). The CMSBS measures early adolescents' perceptions of their ability to implement conflict management skills often taught in SEL programs (e.g., perspective taking, problem solving/compromising, emotional regulation, assertiveness, and clarifying skills). The CMSBS is comprised of six subscales that represent the three predictive components of behavior intention as found in the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 2002): Attitudinal beliefs about conflict skills; Normative beliefs about how their friends view conflict skills; and Control Beliefs about their ability engage in conflict skills.

In regard to the findings of the CMSBS, an orthogonal, six-factor structure emerged, which accounted for 47% of the total variance. This factor structure was representative of the three predictive components of the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 2002), parsed out according to Healthy and Unhealthy approaches to conflict management. Cronbach’s alpha levels ranged from .85 to .90. Overall, the corresponding Healthy and Unhealthy factors of the CMSBS demonstrated moderate to strong convergent validity with the healthy and unhealthy factors of both the CRSI (Bonache, Ramirez-Santana, & Gonzalez-Mendez, 2016) and CONFLICTALK (Kimsey & Fuller, 2003). Similarly, the corresponding factors of the Healthy and Unhealthy CMSBS factors demonstrated divergent validity with the MSPSS (Zimet, Dahlem, Zimet, & Farley, 1988) and A Children's Social Desirability Questionnaire (Crandall, Crandall, & Katkovsky, 1965).

The CMSBS has limitations which include a sample of adolescents residing in the southeastern and northern midwestern United States. Relatedly, although the underlying principles of constructive versus destructive methods of communication included in the development of the CMSBS are concepts commonly agreed upon as effective in many different communities and cultures, the concepts included in the definitions of conflict management are based primarily in Westernized definitions of healthy versus unhealthy conflict resolution strategies. Nonetheless, when further norming is completed, the CMSBS is a useful tool for further understanding the processes which lead to engagement in youth conflict management, for implementation and research surrounding SEL programs, and related behavioral interventions, such as anger management, bullying prevention, and workplace climate.

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