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Conflict Resolution in Chinese Adolescents'


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Conflict Resolution in Chinese Adolescents'


Friendship: Links with Regulatory Focus and
Friendship Satisfaction

Qin Gao, Ran Bian, Ru-de Liu, Yili He & Tian-Po Oei

To cite this article: Qin Gao, Ran Bian, Ru-de Liu, Yili He & Tian-Po Oei (2017): Conflict
Resolution in Chinese Adolescents' Friendship: Links with Regulatory Focus and Friendship
Satisfaction, The Journal of Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/00223980.2016.1270887

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Download by: [Beijing Normal University] Date: 11 January 2017, At: 17:41
THE JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY
2017, VOL. 0, NO. 0, 114
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00223980.2016.1270887

Conict Resolution in Chinese Adolescents Friendship: Links


with Regulatory Focus and Friendship Satisfaction
Qin Gaoa, Ran Bianb, Ru-de Liub, Yili Heb, and Tian-Po Oeib,c
a
China University of Political Science and Law; bBeijing Normal University; cThe University of Queensland

ABSTRACT ARTICLE HISTORY


It is generally acknowledged that people adopt different resolution Received 23 January 2016
strategies when facing conicts with others. However, the mechanisms Accepted 27 November 2016
of conict resolution are still unclear and under researched, in KEYWORDS
particular within the context of Chinese adolescents same-sex Adolescents; conict
friendship relations. Thus, the present study investigated the mediator resolution; friendship
role of conict resolution strategies in the relationship between satisfaction; regulatory focus
regulatory foci and friendship satisfaction for the rst time. 653
Chinese adolescents completed the regulatory foci, conict resolution
style, and friendship satisfaction measures. The results of the structure
equation modeling showed that while promotion focus was positively
associated with problem-solving and compliance, prevention focus
was positively associated with withdrawal and conict engagement. In
addition, problem-solving mediated the relationship between
promotion focus and friendship satisfaction, and conict engagement
mediated the relationship between prevention focus and friendship
satisfaction. These ndings contribute to understanding Chinese
adolescents use of conict resolution strategies as well as the
relationship between regulatory foci and behavioral strategies in
negative situations.

Friendships are essential for adolescents psychosocial development in part because they pro-
vide an important context for the acquisition of a variety of social skills. It is generally
accepted that adolescence is a period of heightened interpersonal conicts, and thus, an
important aspect of gaining social skills is providing learning opportunities to acquire an
ability to resolve conict in interpersonal conict in this growing period (Johnson, Wernli,
& LaVoie, 2013). Conict resolution strategies are believed to play a crucial role in the main-
tenance and quality of adolescents friendships (Thayer, Updegraff, & Delgado, 2008). How-
ever, little is known about the conict resolution strategies practiced in Chinese adolescents
friendships, since most of the relevant research has been done in Western cultures. Promo-
tion and prevention focus, the two motivational systems regulatory focus theory (Higgins,

CONTACT Ran Bian ranbian@bnu.edu.cn Beijing Key Lab of Applied Experimental Psychology, School of Psychol-
ogy, Beijing Normal University, 19 XinJieKouWai St., HaiDian District, Beijing, 100875, China; Ru-de Liu rdliu@bnu.edu.cn
Beijing Key Lab of Applied Experimental Psychology, School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, 19 XinJieKouWai St.,
HaiDian District, Beijing, 100875, China.
Dr Oei is now an emeritus professor of UQ. He is also a visiting professor (part time), of James Cook University Singapore and
Beijing Normal University, and Nanjing University, PR China.
2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
2 Q. GAO ET AL.

1997, 1998) posited, are associated with different behavior strategies across various contexts
(e.g., Kurman, Liem, Ivancovsky, Morio, & Lee, 2015; Tuncdogan, Den Bosch, & Volberda,

2015; Zaal, Van Laar, Stahl, Ellemers, & Derks, 2015). The present study addressed regula-
tory focis role in conict resolution and relationship satisfaction within the context of Chi-
nese adolescents same-sex friendship relations.

Conict Resolution Strategy


Researchers have developed different typologies to describe individuals conict resolution
strategies in interpersonal relationships. However, the most widely used approaches are the
dual concern model (Blake & Mouton, 1964; Rahim, 1983; Thomas & Kilmann, 1974) in
which ve types of strategies were identied according to the level of concern for oneself ver-
sus concern for others: problem-solving (i.e., collaborating, integrating; high concern for self
and others), compromising (moderate concern for self and other), forcing (i.e., competing,
dominating, antagonism, negativity; high concern for self and low concern for others),
smoothing (i.e., accommodating, obliging, compliance; high concern for others and low con-
cern for self), and withdrawal (i.e., avoiding; low concern for self and others). However, since
problem-solving and compromising are less distinguishable in students relationships than
in organizational settings (Hammock, Richardson, Pilkington, & Utley, 1990), the present
study follows de Wied, Branje, and Meeuss (2007) study on adolescents conict resolution
in same-sex friendship using Kurdeks (1994) Conict Resolution Style Inventory (CRSI) to
assess four conict resolution strategies: problem-solving (compromise and negotiation;
high concern for self and others), conict engagement (launching personal attack, getting
very angry and losing self-control; high concern for self and low concern for others), compli-
ance (agreement and not defending oneself; low concern for self and high concern for
others), and withdrawal (becoming distant and tuning others out; low concern for self and
others).
China is a collectivistic culture, which emphasizes the interdependence of individuals and
places a premium on in-group relationships such as friendship (Sorensen, Nicholas, &
Oyserman, 2009; Triandis, 2000). Therefore, understanding how Chinese adolescents handle
conict in their friendship is important for the proper development of adolescents to adult-
hood. However, research investigating conict resolution strategies of Chinese is scarce and
mainly focused on managerial relationships in the workplace (Chin & Liu, 2015; Nguyen &
Yang, 2012). This study was, therefore, designed to ll the gap in our knowledge about
Chinese adolescents conict resolution strategies in friendship relations. In addition, the
study was limited to same-sex friendship because it appears to be the most common type of
friendship among Chinese adolescents, and the ratio of same-sex to other-sex friendship was
about 10:1 (Zeng, 2010).

Regulatory Foci as Antecedents of Conict Resolution Strategies


Regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1997, 1998) distinguished between two distinct motiva-
tional systems in self-regulationpromotion focus and prevention focus. While promotion
focus serves as the motivation to attain advancement, aspirations, and accomplishment, pre-
vention focus serves as the motivation to attain safety, obligations, and responsibilities. Pro-
motion focus and prevention focus are two independent dimensions rather than opposite
THE JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY 3

ends of a single spectrum. People differ in the extent to which they are high on both foci, low
on both foci, or high on one focus and low on the other (Lanaj, Chang, & Johnson, 2012;
Scholer & Higgins, 2008). People with a predominant promotion focus are sensitive to the
presence and absence of positive outcomes; those with a predominant prevention focus are
sensitive to the presence and absence of negative outcomes. Higgins (2000) further stated
that individuals with different regulatory foci tend to exhibit different strategic inclinations.
Specically, predominately promotion-focused individuals are more inclined toward eager
strategies that emphasize positive outcomes, including ensuring hits and ensuring against
errors of misses in signal-detection paradigm, risk taking, and fast behaviors, whereas pre-
dominately prevention-focused individuals are more inclined toward vigilant strategies that
emphasize avoiding negative outcomes, including ensuring correct rejections and ensuring
against errors of commission in signal-detection paradigm, risk aversion, and accurate
behaviors (F orster, Higgins, & Bianco, 2003; Hamstra, Bolderdijk, & Veldstra, 2011; Higgins,
2012).
The present study aimed at extending the effects of regulatory foci on behavioral strate-
gies by investigating the antecedent role of regulatory foci in adolescents behavioral strate-
gies in response to conicts with their best friends of their own gender. We propose that
promotion and prevention orientation would be associated with different strategies based on
the following reasoning.
First, conceptually, these conict resolution strategies differ in their emphasis on positive
or negative outcomes. For example, problem-solving aims at contributing to produce posi-
tive outcomes for both parties. Although with a lower concern for oneself, compliance also
aims at achieving positive outcomes (regaining friendship). Withdrawal, on the other hand,
represents a vigilant strategy with more concerns about negative outcomes, since it empha-
sizes escaping from the conict, which is a negative outcome itself, and avoiding more nega-
tive outcomes to come. Second, research on self-construal has indirectly supported the
relationship between regulatory focus and conict resolution strategies. On one hand, a pro-
motion focus coincides with an independent self-construal and a prevention focus coincides
with an interdependent self-construal (Cross, Hardin, & Gercekswing, 2011). On the other
hand, an independent self-construal is associated with voice (i.e., express ones dissatisfac-
tion in hope of improvement), which represents an active and constructive strategy as posi-
tive resolution does (Sinclair & Fehr, 2005), and an interdependent self-construal is
associated with avoidance (i.e., avoid disagreements and conicts), a passive and less con-
structive strategy similar to withdrawal (Oetzel, 1998). Therefore, we proposed the following
hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1a1c: Promotion focus would be positively associated with problem solving (1a in
Figure 1) and compliance (1b), whereas prevention focus would be positively associated with
withdrawal (1c).

The relationship between conict engagement and regulatory foci is less clear because
conict engagement seems to have neither aimed at reaching a positive outcome nor avoid-
ing a negative outcome. If anything, it aggravates the conict even further (Kurdek, 1994).
Studies on regulatory focus and emotionality, nevertheless, suggest a potential association
between prevention focus and this active and destructive strategy. Individuals emotional
experience is believed to depend on their regulatory focus. Negative outcomes (such as con-
icts with close friends) elicit dejection for promotion-focused persons, agitation (e.g., anger)
4 Q. GAO ET AL.

Figure 1. Hypothesized mediation model.

for prevention-focused persons. In addition, the latter is experienced more intensely than the
former, i.e., prevention-focused people feel worse than promotion-focused people (Higgins,
2012). Other studies have shown that agitation experienced by prevention-focused people
after negative outcomes leads to more activated or energetic behaviors such as increased
responding speed and risk taking (Scholer, Zou, Fujita, Stroessner, & Higgins, 2010;
Strauman & Higgins, 1987). Brockner and Higgins (2001) further claimed that in the work-
place, the agitation felt by prevention-focused employees after negative outcomes might lead
to active and dysfunctional behaviors such as engaging in sabotage. Later studies supported
this nding by revealing that when female participants were exposed to the discrimination
of women in work situations, a strong moral conviction about gender equality caused pre-
vention-focused individuals, but not promotion-focused individuals, to support hostile (e.g.,

commit sabotage) forms of collective action (Zaal, Laar, Stahl, Ellemers, & Derks, 2011). In
addition, when the reciprocity norm was violated by an ostensible partner in a trust game,
participants with a prevention focus, but not a promotion focus, tended to attribute hostile
intentions and react angrily and aggressively (Keller, Hurst, & Uskul, 2008).
By the same token, negative events experienced in adolescents daily lives, such as con-
icts with best friends, may also lead to active and dysfunctional behaviors-conict engage-
ment in this casein prevention-focused individuals. Therefore, we proposed the following
hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1d: Prevention focus would be positively associated with conict engagement (1d in
Figure 1).

Conict Resolution Strategy and Relationship Satisfaction


Conict resolution has been regarded as the most important determinant of overall rela-
tionship quality (Laursen & Collins, 1994). While problem-solving is considered to be a
constructive resolution and associated with greater relationship satisfaction (Hanznal &
Segrin, 2009), avoidance, subordination, and escalation are considered to be destructive
(Johnson et al., 2005; Olson & Braithwaite, 2004). Similarly, Kurdek (1994) reported that
while problem-solving is positively correlated with relationship satisfaction, conict
engagement, compliance, and withdrawal are all negatively correlated with relationship
THE JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY 5

satisfaction. In their study on Mexican adolescents friendship, Thayer et al. (2008) found
that solution-oriented strategies were linked to higher intimacy and lower friendship nega-
tivity, and non-confrontation and control were linked to higher friendship negativity.
Therefore, we proposed the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 2: problem solving would be positively associated with friendship satisfaction (2a in
Figure 1), whereas compliance (2b), withdrawal (2c), and conict engagement (2d) would be
negatively associated with friendship satisfaction.

Regulatory Foci and Friendship Satisfaction/Quality


The present study also attempted to link adolescences regulatory foci to their friendship sat-
isfaction. Although no previous work has directly investigated this relationship, research on
friendships suggests that positive and negative emotions experienced with friends are highly
associated with relationship satisfaction (Hays, 1989). Regulatory focus theory suggests that
the positive emotion experienced by promotion-focused people (cheerfulness) is more
intense than the positive emotion experienced by prevention-focused people (quiescence);
the negative emotion experienced by prevention-focused people (dejection) is more intense
than the negative emotion experienced by promotion-focused people (agitation) (Higgins,
2012). This suggests that greater friendship satisfaction can be experienced by promotion-
focused, than prevention-focused people. Gorman et als (2012) meta-analysis supported
our assumption by revealing that promotion focus is positively associated with job satisfac-
tion, and prevention focus is negatively associated with job satisfaction. Therefore, we pro-
posed the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 3: promotion focus would be positively associated with friendship satisfaction (3a in
Figure 1) and prevention focus would be negatively associated with friendship satisfaction(3b).

In summary, the full model we proposed to test is depicted in Figure 1. As can be seen
from Figure 1, the mediating roles of conict resolution strategies in the relationship
between regulatory foci and friendship satisfaction would be tested. Specically, we proposed
the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 4: problem solving and compliance would mediate the relationship between promo-
tion focus and friendship satisfaction, whereas withdrawal and conict engagement would
mediate the relationship between prevention focus and friendship satisfaction.

Methods
Participants and Procedure
Six hundred fty-three senior high school students (N D 314 males) were randomly selected
from a high school in the suburb of Beijing. They all voluntarily participated in this study.
Participants ages ranged from 15 to 19, with a mean of 16.9 years (SD D .80). They com-
pleted three self-report questionnaires in large groups during school hours. Before complet-
ing the questionnaires, informed consent was obtained from participants and their parents.
These consent procedures were approved by the ethics committee of Beijing Normal
University.
Students rst completed the regulatory focus measure. Then, they were asked to write
down the names of their best friends of their own gender before the friendship satisfaction
6 Q. GAO ET AL.

and conict resolution questionnaire. They were asked to think about this particular friend-
ship when completing these two measures (Thayer et al., 2008).
Two research assistants were present during the survey administration to assist with indi-
vidual student comprehension if necessary and to respond to any questions. No compensa-
tion was provided. The students were given approximately 20 minutes to complete the
survey. The average time taken to complete the questionnaires was 12 minutes.

Measures
Regulatory Focus
The 18-item General Regulatory Focus Measure (GRFM) (Lockwood, Jordan, & Kunda,
2002) was used to assess the participants regulatory focus. This questionnaire consists of
nine promotion-related items (e.g., I frequently imagine how I will achieve my hopes and
aspirations) and nine prevention-related items (e.g., I am anxious that I will fall short of
my responsibilities and obligations). These items were scored on a 9-point Likert-type scale
ranging from (1) not at all true of me to (9) very true of me. The GRFM has a good inter-
nal consistency (.74 to .86) and stability (.62 to .67) and moderate predictive validity, and is
suitable for a student population (Haws, Dholakia, & Bearden, 2010). The Chinese versions
of GRFM have been tested and found to be reliable and valid in assessing students regula-
tory foci (Gao, 2015; Liu, Bian, Gao, Ding, & Zhang, 2016). The alpha coefcients in the cur-
rent study for the promotion subscale and prevention subscale were .81, and .70,
respectively. We randomly averaged the nine items to create three 3-item parcels for each
subscale (Little, Cunningham, Shahar, & Widaman, 2002).

Conict Resolution Strategy


The 16-item Conict Resolution Style Inventory (CRSI) (Kurdek, 1994) was used to assess
students four conict resolution styles (four items for each style)problem-solving (e.g.,
Sitting down and discussing differences constructively), conict engagement (e.g.,
Launching personal attacks), withdrawal (e.g., Remaining silent for long periods of
time), and compliance (e.g., Not defending my opinion). Each item was scored on a 5-
point Likert-type scale ranging from (1) never to (5) always. The CRSI has good internal
consistency (.65 to .91), stability (.46 to .83), and moderate convergent, concurrent, and pre-
dictive validity (Kurdek, 1994). The alpha coefcients in the current study for these subscales
ranged from .71 to .79.

Friendship Satisfaction
The 3-item measure from Jones (Jones, 1991) were used to assess students friendship satis-
faction. A sample item is How satised are you with the socializing you do with your
friend? The items were scored on a 7-point Likert-type scale ranging from (1) very dissatis-
ed to (7) very satised. This measure has good reliability (Jones, 1991). The alpha coef-
cient for this measure was .88 in the current study.
The CRSI and friendship satisfaction measure were translated from English to Chinese by
the authors of the current article with the help of a bilingual speaker. A back-translation was
then performed by a second bilingual speaker who was blind to the English original versions
of the questionnaires. Only minor discrepancies emerged, and the translators resolved them
through discussion.
THE JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY 7

This study utilized one self-reporting survey to collect data on all the variables; therefore,
common method bias may be present. To assess the possible common method bias, Har-
mans one-factor test (Harman, 1960) was conducted on the variables, following Podsakoff
and colleagues (2003). The results of the principal component factor analysis yielded nine
factors with eigenvalues greater than 1.0, which accounted for 59% of the variance. In addi-
tion, the rst factor did not account for the majority of the variance (16%). The common
method bias does not appear to be a serious problem (Podsakoff & Organ, 1986).

Data Analysis
A two-step analysis process (Anderson & Gerbing, 1988; Medsker, Williams, & Holahan,
1994), using LISREL 8.80 (Joreskog & Sorbom, 2006) was employed to test the hypothesized
relationships among the variables. In the rst step, we used conrmatory factor analysis
(CFA) to test the construct validity of the seven measures in this study. In the second step,
the structural model was tested. Then, we used the bootstrap procedure to test the specic
mediation effects between regulatory focus and friendship satisfaction (Lau & Cheung, 2010;
Preacher & Hayes, 2008).

Results
Descriptive Statistics
The means, standard deviations, reliability coefcients, and zero-order correlations of the
studied variables appear in Table 1. One-way repeated measures analysis of variance
(ANOVA) showed a signicant main effect of strategy (F (3, 643) D 297.96, p D .00). The
most to least used conict resolution strategies reported by our participants were problem-
solving, compliance, withdrawal, and conict engagement (all pairwise comparisons were
signicant). In addition, promotion focus correlated signicantly with problem-solving,
compliance, and friendship satisfaction; prevention focus correlated signicantly with prob-
lem-solving, withdrawal, conict engagement, and friendship satisfaction. Problem-solving
and compliance were positively related to friendship satisfaction, whereas withdrawal and
conict engagement were negatively related to friendship satisfaction.
Multivariate ANOVA analyses were conducted to investigate the impact of gender and
age on regulatory foci, conict resolution strategies, and friendship satisfaction. The result
shows that no signicant differences were found among different age (Wilks lambda D .99,
p D .66) and gender (Wilks lambda D .92, p D .10) groups. The interaction between gender

Table 1. Means, Standard Deviations, and Correlations of the Variables Tested.


Variables Mean SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1. Promotion 6.53 1.25 (.81)


2. Prevention 5.80 1.22 .44 (.70)
3. Problem-solving 3.45 0.76 .22 .10 (.71)
4. Compliance 2.86 0.84 .10 .05 .47 (.78)
5. Withdrawal 2.73 0.93 .04 .15 .29 .26 (.79)
6. Conict engagement 2.25 0.76 .03 .11 .25 .23 .44 (.73)
7. Friendship satisfaction 5.97 1.25 .28 .14 .24 .11 .14 .13 (.88)
 
Note: Reliability coefcients for the scales are in parentheses along the diagonal. p < .05. p < .01.
8 Q. GAO ET AL.

and age was also not signicant (Wilks lambda D .96, p D .52). Therefore, gender and age
were not included in our further model analyses.

Conrmatory Factor Analyses for Testing Measurement Model


An initial test of measurement model resulted in a relatively good t to the data, x2(254, N D
653) D 601.02, p < .01, CFI D .96, NNFI D .95, and RMSEA D .05. Standardized item load-
ings to their respective factors were all statistically signicant (p < .01), ranging from .32 to
.90. Correlations among the seven factors ranged from .02 to .63. Average variance-extracted
estimates ranged from .39 to .71. None of the condence intervals around the correlations
(phi estimates) among factors contained a value of 1, supporting discriminant validity
(Anderson & Gerbing, 1988). The average variance-extracted estimates for any combination
of two constructs were greater than the shared variance between them (phi-squared), also
suggesting discriminant validity (Fornell & Larcker, 1981).

Structural Models for Testing Mediation Effects


We tested the hypothesized structural model (see Figure 1) in the LISREL 8.80 program. The
results showed a good t of the model to the data, x2(264, N D 653) D 1040.32, p < .01,
CFI D .92, NNFI D .91, and RMSEA D .07. Figure 2 shows this model with parameter esti-
mates. As predicted, the coefcients of the paths from promotion focus to problem-solving
(g D .26, p < .01) and compliance (g D .12, p < .05) were signicant and positive, as were
the coefcients of the paths from prevention focus to withdrawal (g D .18, p < .01) and con-
ict engagement (g D .18, p < .01). In addition, while the coefcients of the paths from
problem-solving (b D .16, p < .01) and conict engagement (b D .11, p < .05) to friend-
ship satisfaction were signicant, the path coefcients from compliance (b D .02, p > .05),
and withdrawal (b D .06, p > .05) to friendship satisfaction were not signicant (see
Figure 2). Moreover, the signicant path coefcient from promotion focus to friendship sat-
isfaction (g D .36, p < .01) supported the positive association between promotion focus and

Figure 2. Standardized parameter estimates of the mediation model.


Note: The dotted line indicates a non-signicant path at p > .05. Parameter estimates are standardized
coefcients. p < .05. p < .01.
THE JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY 9

Table 2. Bootstrapping results for specic mediation effects.


BC 95% Condence intervals

Specic indirect effects Point estimate Mean indirect effect Lower Upper

PM ! PS ! FS .042 .041 .012 .087


PM ! CP ! FS .002 .003 .022 .008
PV ! WD ! FS .011 .011 .046 .009
PV ! CE ! FS .020 .020 .054 .001

Note: N D 653; 1,000 bootstrap samples. BC, bias-corrected; PM, promotion focus; PV, prevention focus; PS, problem-solving;
CP, compliance; WD, withdrawal; CE, conict engagement; FS, friendship satisfaction.

friendship satisfaction. However, the path coefcient from prevention focus to friendship
satisfaction was not signicant (b D .05, p > .05).
Following the recommendations of Preacher and Hayes (2008) and Lau and Cheung
(2010), we used the bias-corrected (BC) bootstrap condence interval method to test the sig-
nicance of the mediation effects of conict resolution strategies in our model. First, we cre-
ated 1,000 bootstrap samples (N D 653) from the original data set by random sampling with
replacement. Next, we ran the hypothesized structural model described above 1,000 times
with these bootstrap samples to yield 1,000 estimations of each path coefcient. The third
step was to use the output of the 1,000 estimations of each path coefcient to calculate an
estimate of any indirect effect of regulatory focus on friendship satisfaction by multiplying
each 1,000 pairs of path coefcients from (1) promotion or prevention focus to specic con-
ict resolution strategy, and (2) specic conict resolution strategy to friendship satisfaction.
The nal step was to calculate the mean indirect effect and the lower and upper end points
of the BC condence interval from 1,000 bootstrap samples. Table 2 shows the bootstrapping
results.
As Table 2 shows, the 95% BC condence interval for the mediation effects from pro-
motion focus to friendship satisfaction via problem-solving (lower 2.5% limit D .012;
upper 2.5% limit D .087) and prevention focus to friendship satisfaction via conict
engagement (lower 2.5% limit D .054; upper 2.5% limit D .001) does not contain
zero, which indicates that these two mediation effects were signicantly different from
zero. The mediator roles of problem-solving and conict engagement were then sup-
ported. However, the 95% BC condence interval for the mediation effects from promo-
tion focus to friendship satisfaction via compliance (lower 2.5% limit D .022; upper
2.5% limit D .008) and prevention focus to friendship satisfaction via withdrawal (lower
2.5% limit D .046; upper 2.5% limit D .009) does contain zero. Hence, compliance and
withdrawal did not act as mediators.

Discussion
Within the context of Chinese adolescents same-sex friendship relations, the present study
investigated the mediator role of conict resolution strategies in the relationship between
regulatory foci and friendship satisfaction for the rst time. Despite the notion that people
from individualistic cultures prefer more competitive strategies (i.e., forcing, dominating,
and conict engagement) and people from collectivistic cultures show more concern for
others and prefer avoidance and accommodating (Elsayed-EkJiouly & Buda, 1996; Holt &
DeVore, 2005), our participants used conict resolution strategies in a very similar way to
10 Q. GAO ET AL.

their peers in individualistic culture. The most to least used conict resolution
strategies among Chinese adolescents in our study were problem-solving, compliance,
withdrawal, and conict engagement. Using the same conict resolution strategy measure,
Missotten and colleagues reported that the most used strategy among Belgian adolescents
was also problem-solving, and the least used was conict engagement (Missotten, Luyckx,
Branje, Vanhalst, & Goossens, 2011; Missotten, Luyckx, Van Leeuwen, Klimstra, & Branje,
2016). In addition, our results supported the positive association between problem-solving
and friendship satisfaction and the negative association between conict engagement and
friendship satisfaction, as previous studies reported (Kurdek, 1994; Thayer et al., 2008).
However, the hypothesized negative associations between compliance and withdrawal and
relationship satisfaction were not found, which suggest that non-confrontation strategies
like compliance and withdrawal may be not destructive in Chinese culture, with its empha-
sis on harmony (Chen, 2015). Our results also indicated that promotion focus was posi-
tively associated with friendship satisfaction, and prevention focus was not signicantly
associated with friendship satisfaction.
The results supported our argument regarding the association between regulatory foci
and different conict resolution strategies: promotion focus is positively associated with
problem-solving and compliance, whereas prevention focus is positively associated with
withdrawal and conict engagement. These results echo previous research that indirectly
linked promotion focus to constructive conict resolution (i.e., voice), prevention focus to
passive and less constructive conict resolution (i.e., avoidance), through independent and
interdependent self-construal, respectively (Cross et al., 2011; Oetzel, 1998; Sinclair & Fehr,
2005). These ndings extend our knowledge of the relationship between regulatory foci
and behavioral strategies because unlike most regulatory focus studies that investigate this
relationship in neutral (i.e., 0) or positive (i.e., C1) situations, the present study exam-
ined individuals behavioral strategies under different regulatory foci in negative (i.e.,
1) situations, that is, when adolescents are in conict with their best friends of their
own gender. So far, only a few studies have examined individuals behavioral strategies
under different regulatory foci in response to negativity, and these studies have revealed
quite different results from traditional ndings that promotion-focused people prefer eager,
risky strategies and prevention-focused people prefer vigilant, conservative strategies. Using
negative instead of neutral words in signal-detection paradigm, Scholer and colleagues
found that both promotion and prevention individuals showed a risky bias, and prevention
individuals were even more risky than promotion individuals (Scholer, Stroessner, & Hig-
gins, 2008). Similarly, after real negative events (e.g., after losing money, after being dis-
criminated, and when a partner violated the reciprocity norm), prevention focus, but not
promotion focus, predicted risk-seeking behavior (Scholer et al., 2010), support for hostile
(e.g., commit sabotage) form of collective action (Zaal et al., 2011), and hostile intention
attributions and angry and aggressive reactions (Keller et al., 2008). Consistent with these
ndings suggesting an association between prevention focus and active and destructive
behaviors responding to negativity, our results indicate that adolescents with stronger pre-
vention focus showed more tendencies to further intensify the conicts with their best
friends of their own gender.
More importantly, we found that problem-solving mediated the relationship between
promotion focus and friendship satisfaction, and conict engagement mediated the relation-
ship between prevention focus and friendship satisfaction. This showed that adolescents
THE JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY 11

with a promotion focus tend to adopt problem-solving when facing conict with best friends
of their own gender. Problem-solving, in turn, facilitates their satisfaction with their friend-
ship. Adolescents with a prevention focus, in contrast, tend to engage themselves in the con-
ict, which in turn reduces their friendship satisfaction. On a practical level, these results
contribute to understanding the motivation that underlies different conict resolution strate-
gies, which would be benecial to help adolescents develop more functional strategies to
respond to interpersonal conicts. First, our results suggest that more attention should be
paid to those with a prevention focus because they are prone to the dysfunctional conict
engagement strategy. More importantly, since that regulatory focus can be both a chronic
person variable and a induced situational variable (Crowe & Higgins, 1997), and numerous
studies have suggested that chronic and situational regulatory foci tend to have the same
effect (e.g., Jin, Wang, & Dong, 2016; Som, 2016), an induced promotion focus may facilitate
adolescents adoption of more constructive strategies. For example, when talking to adoles-
cents about their friendships, instead of framing conict with friends as something negative
and to be avoided, framing it in promotion-oriented terms, such as an opportunity to
achieve deeper and closer friendship, may contribute to their strategy choice.

Author Notes
Qin Gao is an assistant professor at School of Sociology, China University of Political Science and Law.
Her current research interest is motivation psychology.

Ran Bian is an associate professor at School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University. His current
research interests include personnel selection, regulatory focus, and organizational socialization.

Ru-de Liu is a professor at School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University. His current research
interests are mathematics education and motivation.

Yili He is currently a master student at School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University. Her current
research interest is regulatory focus.

Tian-Po Oei is an emeritus professor of University of Queensland. He is also a visiting professor (part
time) of James Cook University Singapore and Beijing Normal University, and Nanjing University.
His current research interests are addictive behaviors and substance abuse as well as psychopathology.

Funding
This study was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities.

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