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The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) is apparently quite popular in MBA classes and even in conflict negotiation practice:

The TKI is popular beyond the confines of negotiation classes. Indeed, it is one of the most widely used instruments of its kind in the world.

It basically scores one's negotiation style in five domains: Competing, Collaborating, Compromising, Avoiding, and Accommodating, although it looks like these are placed on just two dimensions Assertiveness and Cooperativeness.

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(The also have an interesting FAQ as to why they chose this domain approach: apparently to avoid halo and social desirability effects in questions/answers.)

Has the TKI been [co]related to the Big Five or some other more general (i.e. not simply focused on conflict-resolution) personality model?

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There are a few studies that have correlated Big 5 with conflict styles. There are various terminology and measures but many use a similar set of five styles to the TKI.

Antonioni (1998) is highly cited. Here are the correlations.

big 5 and conflict styles

In short:

  • The five conflict styles are correlated in ways that partially reflect the underlying two-dimensions of interested in self and interested in others.
  • Agreeableness correlates positively with interested in others and avoiding conflict. Agreeableness is also the strongest correlate of conflict styles.
  • Extraversion and openness are both related to integrating and negatively related to avoiding conflict.
  • Conscientiousness is related to integrating.
  • Neuroticism is related to avoiding conflict.

Antonioni, D. (1998). Relationship between the big five personality factors and conflict management styles. International journal of conflict management, 9(4), 336-355.

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I am personally accredited in the TKI and before answering the question here is my take:

  1. TKI is an instrument based on a theory. If neuroscience is your thing, my guess is that you would prefer theories to be based on data (as the Big Five is’ then derive an instrument from that.

  2. I have not seen much in the way of empirical research around the TKI, however as a guess I would hazard the following:

Accommodating may correlate with high trait Agreeableness.

Avoiding may correlate with high trait Neuroticism

Competing may correlate with low trait Agreeableness

Personally I think the only value of TKI is to surface how individuals interact with one another. But the problem is that this can create a false awareness - if something is a TRAIT then it is quite hard to change. Better imho to stick with the Big Five and derive an understanding of how you handle conflict from that.

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