2 questionnaires identifying conflict management style

(Source: Orlando Blake)

In a recent point, I provided an overview of 5 styles of conflict management:

  1. Avoiding (the Turtle)
  2. Confronting (the Shark)
  3. Accommodating (the Teddy Bear)
  4. Compromising (the Fox)
  5. Collaborating (the Owl)

In this post I discuss two questionnaires that can be used to identify people’s main style: the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) and the Adkins Conflict Management Styles Assessment.

Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

Kenneth Thomas and Ralf Kilmann developed the TKI in the early to mid-1970s [1-3]. It involves 30 forced choice questions, where you have to choose which of two statements is more like you. For example:

Question 4:

  1. I try to find a compromise solution.
  2. I sometimes sacrifice my own wishes for the wishes of the other person.

Question 21

  1. In approaching negotiations, I try to be considerate of the other person’s wishes.
  2. I always lean toward a direct discussion of the problem.

While lots of people don’t like forced choice questions, the advantage of this questionnaire is that it was designed to reduce the impact of social desirability – the tendency for people to respond to questions, either consciously or unconsciously, in ways that present themselves how they want to be viewed – on the responses [3].

While there are limitations to the TKI [4, 5], it is the most widely used conflict styles measurement tool and has been used in a range of contexts including health [6], project management [7], education [8].

The TKI is available for purchase from https://kilmanndiagnostics.com/overview-thomas-kilmann-conflict-mode-instrument-tki/. From 2023 the prices are USD $50 per person for up to 49 people, and USD $40 per person for 1000 or more. With the purchase, you can receive a personalised report presenting the results (see an example here.)

In the context of the Alternatives to Violence Project (where I particularly want to use a conflict management scale), the draw backs are that it is too expensive for unfunded research and, because we are wanting to engage people in the workshops who may be involuntary or reluctant, the length of it (there are 60 statements) and the fact that people don’t like forced choice questions are significant problems.

Adkins Conflict Management Styles Assessment

The Adkins Conflict Management Styles Assessment, is a shorter, easier questionnaire that is still based on the five conflict styles. It is freely available on the web (click the previous link) and involves 15 statements using a Likert scale of Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Always. This means that each style is only asked about three times, compared to 12 statements for each style in the TKI.

The downsides of it includes  that it has not (as far as I know) been validated or standardised and is more likely to be affected by social desirability bias and it has not been widely used in published research. I first came across it in some research by Ntombizakhe Moyo-Nyoni on AVP with ex-prisoners in Zimbabwe (which will be available next year in a book I’m helping to edit about AVP Around the World).

The other things I like about the Adkins tool, and the TKI to a lesser extent, is that it can be a useful teaching tool. In using four of the five styles of conflict management in many AVP workshops (we generally leave out the fox, but might consider including it again), I’ve found they make intuitive sense to people and they can quickly see the value of being an owl (collaborating). We don’t suggest that this is always the best response, but we do suggest that it can be problematic if we are usually stuck in one of the other responses.

Using the Adkins Conflict Management Styles Assessment

We are planning an evaluation of our trial of AVP as a weekly open group and are incorporating the Adkins Conflict Management Styles Assessment into the evaluation. We are planning to have a one-on-one orientation meeting with potential participants to provide them some background information to the workshops and what to expect and, as part of the orientation, invite them to complete the assessment. We will then invite them to complete it once they complete 9 sessions, and then every 10 sessions or so.

We also hope to use it in traditional closed workshops at the start and the end of the workshop and want to explore how we can do a follow up questionnaire with them, 6 months or so after the workshop.

At the moment, we are considering adapting the questions so that they are statements that people either agree with or disagree with (using a five scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree). I’m not sure what difference that would make.

As part of this evaluation, I want to develop an easy way to allow people to do the survey and get the results straight away (e.g., an online tool) because the assessment is a useful teaching tool. Learning about the five different styles and gaining some insight into which are your preferred styles, can assist people to reflect on how they respond to conflict.

While the Adkins Conflict Management Styles Assessment has some limitations, I think the simplicity, the availability. the cost, and the ease of use makes it an useful way of understanding and exploring how people respond to conflict.

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. What are the 5 styles of conflict management?
  2. Strengths-based measurement
  3. What are Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops?
  4. The Parent Empowerment and Efficacy Measure (PEEM)
  5. Strengths-based measurement and collective impact
  6. Evidence-informed practice, evidence-based programs and measuring outcomes

If you find any problems with the blog, (e.g., broken links or typos) I’d love to hear about them. You can either add a comment below or contact me via the Contact page.


  1. Kilmann, R. H., & Thomas, K. W. (1977). Developing a forced-choice measure of conflict-handling behavior: The” MODE” instrument. Educational and psychological measurement, 37(2), 309-325.
  2. Thomas, K. W., & Kilmann, R. H. (1974). Thomas-Kilmann conflict MODE instrument. Xicom.
  3. Kilmann, R. H. (2011). Celebrating 40 Years with the TKI Assessment. https://shop.themyersbriggs.com/PDFs/Author_Insights_April_2011.pdf
  4. Womack, D. F. (1988). Assessing the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Survey. Management Communication Quarterly, 1(3), 321-349. https://doi.org/10.1177/0893318988001003004
  5. Womack, D. F. (1988). A review of conflict instruments in organizational settings. Management Communication Quarterly, 1(3), 437-445. https://doi.org/10.1177/0893318988001003010
  6. Kantek, F., & Kartal, H. (2015). Conflict management in student nurses: systematic review. Journal of educational and instructional studies in the world, 5, 62-67.
  7. Mohammed, U. K., Prabhakar, G. P., & White, G. (2008). Culture and conflict management style of international project managers. International Journal of Business Management, 3(5), 3-11.
  8. Clott, A. D. (2010). Conflict behavior in the diverse classroom [PhD dissertation, University of Oregon].

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), Nonviolence and conflict resolution and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 2 questionnaires identifying conflict management style

  1. Lucy Y. Steinitz says:

    Dear Graeme,

    I get long emails from you every couple days and they are impressive: you have lots of insightful, educative, and helpful things to say. At the same time, I know that I’m not giving your writings the attention they deserve, because I’m still working and get at least 100 other emails every day, too. I suspect there are others on your email list who are in a similar situation.

    Perhaps you’re planning to compile your insights into a book and that would be a good thing. Or might I also suggest a podcast series? Both could be accessible to the global AVP community to a degree that these emails don’t reach. And they would be a lot easier to go back to and re-absorb at a later time, perhaps in relation to a particular AVP workshop or other event.

    With kindness and gratitude, Lively Lucy


    • Hi Lucy
      There is a book coming! I’m part of a group of AVP facilitators from USA, South Africa and Australia who are slowly completing an edited book with chapters by AVP facilitators around the world. There will be over 30 chapters and it has been wonderful reading about what is happening in different countries and a range of contexts. We really hope it will be available next year.
      Sorry you find the emails too much. I didn’t write anything on the blog for over 10 months so I am probably doing a bit of catch up. I suspect the number of posts will soon decrease. I find the blog a good way to allow people to access things at their own pace.
      Thanks for encouraging me to do a podcast, but I’m a bit hesitant as I’ve never done it before and the blog takes quite a lot of time (because I try to make sure it is reliable by researching it and checking my facts). I’m worried a podcast would take even longer.
      Thanks for the feedback.


I'd love to hear what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.