Do Brief Lab-Based Interventions Decrease Coercive Conflict Within Couples and Parent–Child Dyads?

Amy M. Smith Slep, Richard E. Heyman, Danielle A. Mitnick, Michael F. Lorber, Kimberly A. Rhoades, Kelly A. Daly, Sara R. Nichols, J. Mark Eddy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coercive conflicts between parents and children and between couples are implicated in the pathogenesis of a variety of psychological and physical health problems. Despite its seeming importance to population health, there are no widely available, easy-to-use methods with demonstrated efficacy to engage coercive conflict and reduce it. Identifying and testing potentially efficacious and disseminable micro-interventions (i.e., interventions that can be delivered in under 15 minutes via computer or paraprofessional) for targets with cross-cutting health implications, such as coercive conflict, is the focus of the National Institutes of Health Science of Behavior Change initiative. We experimentally tested four micro-interventions targeting coercive conflict in couple and parent–child dyads in a within-between design. There were mixed but supportive findings for the efficacy of most of the micro-interventions. Attributional reframing, implementation intentions, and evaluative conditioning all reduced coercive conflict as assessed by some but not all measures of observed coercion. No findings indicated any iatrogenic effects. Interpretation bias modification treatment improved at least one measure of coercive conflict for couples, but not for parents and children; additionally, it increased self-reported coercive conflict. Overall, these results are encouraging and suggest that very brief and highly disseminable micro-interventions for coercive conflict are a fruitful direction for inquiry. Optimizing micro-interventions and deploying them across the health care infrastructure could tremendously enhance family functioning and, in turn, health behaviors and health ( IDs: NCT03163082, NCT03162822).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)666-681
Number of pages16
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • coercion
  • couple
  • experiment
  • intervention
  • parent–child

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Do Brief Lab-Based Interventions Decrease Coercive Conflict Within Couples and Parent–Child Dyads?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this