Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Joan R. Rentsch

Committee Members

Lowell Gaertner, John T. Mentzer, Michael C. Rush


Substantial research has consistently shown that socio-emotional conflict detracts from team performance and decreases team member satisfaction. However, little research has been done to determine what leads to this type of conflict. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine in more detail the underlying causes of socio-emotional conflict among team members from a person-perception perspective. A round-robin design and D. Kenny's (1994) social relations model (SRM) were used to examine the extent to which perceptions of socio-emotional conflict stem from individual versus relational factors. Moreover, several individual difference variables were examined to investigate who is most likely to perceive conflict with others, and who is most likely to be seen as causing conflict. The results indicated that a substantial amount of variance in perceptions of socio-emotional conflict is attributable to the perceiver, supporting the contention that conflict may be largely "in the eye of the beholder." A lack of significant correlations among individual difference variables and the perceiver and target effects, suggests that the reasons why team members perceive or cause conflict may be more complicated than originally thought, and draws attention to the need for further research on socio-emotional conflict in teams.

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