Couples’ Helpful, Unhelpful and Ideal Conflict Resolution Strategies: Secure and Insecure Attachment Differences and Similarities


  • Karin du Plessis
  • Dave Clarke


Twenty two heterosexual couples living in New Zealand participated in this study regarding helpful, unhelpful and idealized conflict resolution strategies. Thematic analysis was used to extract key themes, and these were categorized by whether individuals were securely or insecurely attached to their partners. Both secure and insecure individuals identified similar helpful conflict strategies, including turn-taking, listening and remaining calm. Differences emerged between secure and insecure individuals with regards to unhelpful strategies, with insecure individuals’ descriptions taking on an overall negative  slant, whilst secure individuals either did not use unhelpful strategies or have learned more helpful strategies over time. Similar ideal conflict strategies emerged for both secure and insecure individuals; however, secure individuals’ descriptions were much more closely matched to the helpful strategies they use in their own relationships.