Perceived Match or Mismatch on the Gottman Conflict Styles: Associations with Relationship Outcome Variables


conflict styles, Gottman, couples


Gottman has proposed that there are 3 functional styles of conflict management in couple relationships, labeled Avoidant, Validating, and Volatile, and 1 dysfunctional style, labeled Hostile. Using a sample of 1,983 couples in a committed relationship, we test the association of perceived matches or mismatches on these conflict styles with relationship outcome variables. The results indicate that 32% of the participants perceive there is a mismatch with their conflict style and that of their partner. The Volatile‐Avoidant mismatch was particularly problematic and was associated with more stonewalling, relationship problems, and lower levels of relationship satisfaction and stability than the Validating matched style and than other mismatched styles. The most problematic style was the Hostile style. Contrary to existing assumptions by Gottman, the 3 matched functional styles were not equivalent, as the Validating Style was associated with substantially better results on relationship outcome measures than the Volatile and Avoidant styles.

Original Publication Citation

Busby, D. M., & Holman. T. B. (2009). Perceived match or mismatch on the Gottman conflict styles: Associations with relationship outcome variables. Family Process, 48, 531-545.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Family Process




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor