How Affect and Attributions Fit in the Conflict Experience

David Geller

Advisor: Stephen Zaccaro, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Seth Kaplan, Matthew Cronin

David J. King Hall, #2038
April 29, 2019, 01:30 PM to 03:30 PM


At the heart of organizational conflict research resides a frustrating relationship between task conflict, relationship conflict, and conflict-related outcomes. Whereas relationship conflict negatively impacts performance and emergent states, task conflict can serve either as an asset or a liability to these outcomes.  To date no empirically supported explanation accounts for the processes underlying these relationships or the why task and relationship conflict demonstrate a moderate to strong meta-analytic relationship.  Using a lab study, this paper applies structural equation modeling (SEM) to investigate a framework that embeds negative affect and causal attributions in the heart of these relationships. Findings indicate that negative affect mediates the relationship between task conflict and relationship conflict, and that the mediated relationship is moderated by the extent to which an individual is sensitive to face threats. Findings also indicate that certain dimensions of causal attributions, such as personal control, influence these relationships.