Style Matters Conflict Style Inventory Technical Summary


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Summary of purpose, available formats, and psychometric status of the Style Matters conflict style inventory

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Style Matters Conflict Style Inventory Technical Summary

  1. 1. Technical Information on Style Matters The Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory Description Style Matters is a conflict style inventory that assesses the response of users to conflict in two settings, Calm and Storm. Users answer twenty questions and receive two sets of scores, one for Calm settings and one for Storm. Users are guided in interpreting their scores in the context of a graphic showing the five styles.
  2. 2. Underlying Theoretical Frameworks Mouton Blake Axis. Like the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, the five conflict styles underlying Style Matters are derived from the Mouton-Blake Axis, which compares preference for personal goals and preference for relationship. Dynamic understanding of conflict. Style Matters assumes that responses to conflict are dynamic, not static, and that conflict responses are likely to be different when emotions are high than when differences first arise. Ten questions are worded in such a way as to elicit user responses to conflict when it first arises and emotions are not yet high, a setting referred to by the inventory as Calm. A second set of ten questions asks users to describe their response in settings of Storm, that is, when initial efforts to resolve things have not been successful and emotions have increased. Conflict as culturally influenced. Style Matters also assumes that conflict responses are influenced by cultural setting, and draws on the distinction proposed by E.T. Hall between “high context” and “low context” cultures. Users are invited to choose between two sets of instructions to follow while taking the inventory. One set of instructions, for users from low context cultural backgrounds, asks users to answer questions in a way that is true to their typical way of responding to conflict. An alternative set, for people from high context cultures in which response to conflict is highly determined by the nature of the relationship, asks users to choose one conflict situation, or one type of relationship, such as with peers in the work setting, and hold this in mind while answering questions.
  3. 3. Trainers who wish to administer the inventory in the simplest way possible can easily ignore the cultural flexibility features of the inventory and instruct users to use a particular set of instructions. Format of Answers Users answer questions on a seven point Likert scale with “Rarely” corresponding to 1 and “Usually” to 7. E.g.: Validation A 2005 doctoral study using Style Matters found that the instrument performed well in reliability testing and is “valid and reliable”. Jean Chronis Kuhn, who received her Doctorate in Nursing Practice at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, administered Style Matters to Massachusetts nursing home directors to assess conflict management styles before and after a conflict management teaching intervention. In her conclusion, Chronis Kuhn wrote that the inventory performed well in reliability testing, "leading to the conclusion that the model and conflict measurement tools have immense applicability to other nursing settings as well as sustainability.” A larger research project conducted by researchers in the Communications Department at West Chester University of Pennsylvania in 2009-2010 administered Style Matters to more than three hundred subjects and tested various wordings of questions for validity and reliability, standard benchmarks of consistency and accuracy of measurement in testing. Adjustments were then made to reflect these findings in subsequent versions. Based on the results of their research, the researchers rated Style Matters well on both counts, and reported their findings in a peer-reviewed essay by M.E. Braz, B. Lawton, R. Kraybill, & K. Daly, K., "Validation of the Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory," submitted to the 2010 Annual Convention of the National Communication Association, San Fransisco. A related essay by Mary Braz and Bessie Lawton, "Kraybill Conflict Style
  4. 4. Inventory Validation" was published in the Humanities and Science University Journal, 2, 2012, pages 9-24. Riverhouse ePress actively supports objective scholarly research into conflict styles by providing access to Style Matters at no cost to serious academic research projects, while maintaining a policy of complete objectivity regarding findings. Formats Style Matters is available in: - a twenty three page full color print version - a PDF version that is identical to the print version, allowing for trainers or users to print out their own hard copy. - a fully-automated online version that scores users and creates a 6 page score report tailored to the user’s score, with suggested strategies of self-management based on scores. Support Materials A twenty five page Trainers Guide keyed to the print version is available free to any taker on the Riverhouse website. A ten slide “Introduction to Conflict Styles” is also available for free online use on the website or can be purchased for a modest price. The print/paper versions contain thirteen pages of information to support a training workshop on conflict styles. The online version provides users with access to an online tutorial containing the same information plus additional visuals and charts, in addition to a six page score report. Support Technology For a modest additional cost, trainers can purchase a Trainer’s Dashboard to facilitate administration of Style Matters. The Dashboard enables trainers to: - See at a glance which of their users have taken the inventory - Manage the user experience by, for example, clicking a button that sends reports to the trainer and delays sending to the taker until the trainer chooses - Enables the trainer to immediately download and view user reports - Send emails to users, as individuals or as a group. - Download scores of multiple users in an Excel file, for easy aggregration of scores. Website: