Date of Original Version

2-2012

Type

Working Paper

Rights Management

All Rights Reserved

Abstract or Description

Relationship conflict has detrimental effects, and scholars advise avoiding these conflicts. However, little is known about the emotional experience of relationship conflict and the intrapersonal consequences of conflict avoidance. In a field study of a long-term healthcare organization, we developed and tested a model examining the emotional experience of relationship conflict, and, in particular, the role of gender and conflict avoidance. We proposed that gender will influence the negative emotional experience of relationship conflict, the amount of emotional labor associated with hiding these emotions, and the effectiveness of avoidance as a conflict management strategy. Findings revealed that women experienced significantly more negative emotions from relationship conflict than men. For women, conflict avoidance led to increased emotional labor, whereas for men, conflict avoidance did not influence emotional labor. Overall, results indicated that relationship conflict elicited negative affective effects, ultimately leading to emotional exhaustion, which were exacerbated by conflict avoidance for women.

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