Folk Wisdom About the Effects of Relationship Conflict

  • Jeffrey Sanchez‐Burks
  • Eric J. Neuman
  • Oscar Ybarra
  • Shirli Kopelman
  • Hyekyung Park
  • Karen Goh


Three experiments examined cultural differences and similarities in folk wisdom about the effects of perceived conflict. In Study 1, Americans exhibited an optimistic bias relative to East Asians in their beliefs about perceived relationship conflict, but not conflict in general. Study 2 suggests that these findings cannot be accounted for by cultural differences in perceptions about the distinction, or lack thereof, between relationship and task‐focused forms of conflict. Furthermore, the results demonstrated an interaction effect such that both groups prefer to address and resolve perceived task conflict proactively, whereas only European Americans perceive that it is relatively unnecessary to address relationship conflict to achieve task performance. Study 3 suggests that these cultural patterns have behavioral implications, such that Americans were more likely than East Asians to join a talented group likely to experience relationship conflict. Together, these results suggest novel implications for intragroup dynamics in intercultural contexts.

Keywords: culture, conflict, conflict frames, protestant relational ideology, American exceptionalism, holistic thinking

How to Cite:

Sanchez‐Burks, J. & Neuman, E. & Ybarra, O. & Kopelman, S. & Park, H. & Goh, K., (2008) “Folk Wisdom About the Effects of Relationship Conflict”, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 1(1), 53-76. doi:

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Published on
12 Feb 2008
Peer Reviewed