Interpersonal Dominance in Relational Conflict: A View from Dyadic Power Theory

Authors

  • Norah E. Dunbar
  • Amy M. Bippus
  • Stacy L. Young

Abstract

This investigation uses dyadic power theory (Dunbar, 2004; Dunbar & Burgoon, 2005a; Rollins & Bahr, 1976) to offer competing hypotheses examining the relationship between power and dominance in close relationships. Forty-seven couples engaged in a conversation while being videotaped; the tapes were coded by third-party observers for dominance. Participants rated themselves to be the most dominant when they were equal to their partners in power, followed by those who perceived they were more powerful relative to their partners. Men and women had different perceptions of power and dominance in their relationships. Men’s perceptions of power were not related to their behavioral dominance whereas when women saw themselves as more powerful, they viewed their partners as more dominant.

Author Biographies

Norah E. Dunbar, California State University Long Beach
Department of Communication Studies

Amy M. Bippus, California State University, Long Beach
Department of Communication Studies

Stacy L. Young, California State University, Long Beach
Department of Communication Studies