Theses Doctoral

Emotional Self-Management and Transfer of Learning in a Conflict Resolution Course for Adults: The Role of Mindfulness

Fountain, Susan Helen

Conflict resolution education tends to emphasize the analysis of conflict dynamics, and skills for communication and problem-solving. The role of emotions, and practical strategies for one’s own emotional self-management have received less attention. Emotional dysregulation in conflict may interfere with the use of learned conflict resolution skills, thus reducing transfer of learning. The study explored the possible influence of mindfulness practice on emotional self-management, and subsequent transfer of learning in interpersonal conflict.
This modified qualitative case study involved 15 adult undergraduate students in the researcher’s class on “Managing Conflict.” Mindfulness practice was included in every class, and subjects kept a journal on their frequency of out-of-class practice. Subjects were interviewed before the start of the class on their ways of handling conflict, and were asked to describe a recent conflict they had been involved in. A post-class interview asked the same questions, as well as exploring subjects’ experience of mindfulness.
Findings revealed that for this group of subjects, frequency of mindfulness practice had little influence on emotional self-management or transfer of learning. However, subjects’ stance toward mindfulness, a qualitative descriptor, appeared to positively influence both emotional self-management and transfer of learning. Stance toward mindfulness was described as focusing on either self-soothing or self-awareness. Subjects reporting a self-awareness stance were more likely to report managing their emotions in conflict, regardless of whether their dominant emotion in a conflict was anger or fear. They were also more likely to report transfer of learning (specifically, the ability to identify causes of conflict and the other party’s needs, to use receptive communication skills, and to incorporate mindful awareness in the negotiation process). Self-awareness appeared to be a foundational capacity that supported emotional self-management and transfer of learning for this group of subjects. Possible implications for the field of conflict resolution, and directions for future research, are discussed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Marsick, Victoria J.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
August 26, 2019