Withdrawal threshold in interpersonal conflict among adolescents of divorced parents

Joseph Guttmann, Chen Ben-Asher, Amnon Lazar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ABSTRACT The present study examines one possible explanation for the intergenerational transmission of divorce: a long‐term effect of learned lower withdrawal threshold. The underlying assumption here is that people differ in their readiness to struggle in a relationship before reaching the point at which they withdraw and that this withdrawal threshold is modelled and learned in the family. More specifically, the study tests the hypothesis that adolescents of divorced parents exhibit a lower withdrawal threshold in various depicted interpersonal conflict situations. The study's sample consisted 215 adolescents, including 58 (25 boys and 33 girls) of divorced parents and 157 (74 boys and 83 girls) of married parents. Two questionnaires were specially constructed to test the present study's research question: the Adolescents’ Withdrawal Threshold in Interpersonal Conflicts Questionnaire, which depicted 30 different interpersonal conflict situations, and the Adolescents’ Perception of Divorce as Indicator of Withdrawal Threshold. The results do not support the study's main hypothesis. That is, adolescents with divorced parents do not respond to depicted interpersonal conflict situations with a lower withdrawal threshold than those from intact families. However, the results do show that adolescents from intact families are more likely than those with divorced parents to judge divorce as indicating a low withdrawal threshold. These and other results are discussed within the framework of the behavioural‐modelling theory and in terms of the generalisability of divorce as a kind of withdrawal response to other types of conflict.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-190
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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