Understanding Conflict Response Styles: The Use of the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis with Adolescents

By Gold, Joshua M. | Professional School Counseling, October 1999 | Go to article overview

Understanding Conflict Response Styles: The Use of the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis with Adolescents


Gold, Joshua M., Professional School Counseling


The goal of this paper is to introduce school counselors to the idea of addressing adolescent conflict situations through use of an insight-provoking, standardized, Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis(R) (T-JTA(R)) instrument (1966-1992. Use of this self-report instrument will allow the adolescent to learn that it is conflict style, rather than conflict event, that maintains interpersonal tension and will set the stage for individual appraisal of one's conflict style, creating an opportunity to learning new ways to resolve interpersonal conflict situations.

Conceptual Foundation

The incidence of interpersonal conflict during adolescence has been firmly supported through developmental theory and social stereotype (Lauresen & Collins, 1994; Lauresen & Koplas, 1995). Psychoanalytic, sociobiological, and cognitive-developmental theories view conflict as a component of individual and interpersonal maturation. The adolescent's initial attempts at self-definition, accompanied ry uncertainty and searching, and at the re-definition of one's interpersonal relationships, particularly with authority figures, offer many venues for confrontation (Jensen-Campbell, Graziano, & Hair, 1996).

In response to concern about interpersonal conflict during adolescence, several skill-focused programs have been developed. Nelson, Thomas and Pierce (1995) report on a fishbowl model utilizing a facilitator, panel, and audience to learn appropriate confrontation and conflict resolution skills. Prothrow-Stith (1994), Wheeler (1994), and Van Slyck, Stern, and Zak-Place (1996) advocate preventive and remedial competencies for adolescents. Charney (1993) proposes a "non-violence curriculum," using school personnel as role models and dedicating classroom time toward mastery of appropriate conflict resolution strategies. Hamburg (1994) and Gallus and Stinski (1994) detail a conflict resolution model that extends beyond school walls, involving parents and the community. All these authors provide support for their related approaches. However, all six overlook the integration of personal insight into a conflict resolution model.

We recognize adolescence as "the amplification of self-reflective thought" (Ormond, Luszcz, Mann, & Beswick, 1991, p.275), and that this insight process is vital to regulation of cognitions and behaviors (Anon, Gutkin, & Bruning, 1994). The emerging metacognitive ability allows adolescents to begin to question their thinking and behaving process and those processes of others during interpersonal conflict situations. This questioning is the first step prior to evaluation and must precede any attempt at behavioral change. Insight into reasoning processes will lead to awareness of inconsistencies in these processes and to attempts to resolve these cognitive, and resulting interpersonal, inconsistencies (Swanson & Hill, 1993).

This metacognitive ability offers the opportunity to introduce the idea that neither the event nor the antagonist is inherently conflictual, but become so in response to the adolescent's conflict response style. Assuming that conflict escalation or resolution is a function of the interpersonal communication styles of the individuals involved in the dispute (Epkins, 1996), a greater understanding of self-in-conflict can help adolescents understand their roles in the ensuing interaction and facilitate student self-regulation (Garcia & Pintrich, 1995). The accuracy of adolescent insight, in comparison to ratings by parents and teachers, has been well supported (Steele, Forehand, & Devine, 1996) The efficacy of the integration of metacognitive strategies on positive classroom learning behaviors (Bouffard-- Bouchard, Parent, & Larivee, 1991) and adolescent anxiety has been substantiated (Kendall & Southam-Gerow, 1996).

The Use of the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis

The Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis instrument (1996-1992) offers insight into nine personality trait pairings, facilitating participant awareness into the function and significance of these traits in interpersonal conflict situations. …

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