Brittany Ann Fishburn



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The conversation surrounding roommate conflicts has already begun, but a majority of past literature has focused on personal characteristics of individuals and their compatibility as roommates. Quantitative research studies have delved into how it impacts the lives of students, including stress, mental health and retention. Yet empirical research has not yet been conducted specifically on the actual dynamics of interpersonal conflict between college roommates. The purpose of this qualitative study is to better understand the experiences of college roommates in conflict at a private, Midwestern institution and how they respond to the phenomenon. With the desire to put student experience at the center of this research, students’ perceptions were shared through semi-structured, in-person one-on-one interviews with the individuals who self-selected to take part in this study. Expressly, this research provides a richer understanding of how roommates react to conflict based upon how nonverbal and verbal reactions within the conflict situation are expressed, what conflict resolution strategies roommates generally use in conflict and how roommates in conflict describe how it has shaped their capacity for coping with the inevitable conflicts of the future. With mental health and overall college satisfaction on the line, this research assists student affairs practitioners in better understanding the dynamics between roommates in conflict and how it shapes their college experience. It provides insight into how student affairs practitioners, especially those who work in university housing, can be better prepared to respond to situations where roommates are in conflict. Inevitably, this information can lead to the creation of better conflict management practices to teach to staff and students in university housing and across campus.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Graham F. Hunter

Primary Advisor's Department

Counselor Education


Stander Symposium project, student affairs, School of Education and Health Sciences

Exploring College Roommate Conflicts