Escalating, Accusing, and Rationalizing: A Model of Distortion and Interaction in Couple Conflict

Jason B. Whiting, Jaclyn D. Cravens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

When couples fight, they tend to distort, using strategies like denial, rationalization, and deception. These are used to blame the other and minimize one's role in the conflict. This dynamic almost always exists during conflict and is found in extreme forms when fighting turns abusive. This project involved using constructivist grounded theory methods to analyze observational data of couple interactions. Types, effects, and contextual issues related to distortions, as well as how partners used strategies to deescalate and avoid distortion, were examined. Types of distortion included accusation, justification, and victimization, and these were arranged into a model that shows the relationship between escalation and distortion. Implications for clinicians and researchers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-273
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Couple and Relationship Therapy
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Keywords

  • accusation
  • attribution
  • blame
  • couple conflict
  • distortion
  • victimization

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