Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: A Microanalysis of Conflict

by Kelsie Jo Knudson
Communication Studies
Faculty advisor: Dr. Jill Rhea

This paper analyzes conflict management using a coding scheme called Control Coding. Control Coding is a process using numbers to examine types of utterances used during conflict.  Scenes from the movie Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, starring Mathew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner, were used as data for this analysis. The results show escalatory spirals, power struggles, and competitive symmetry.  As commitment and involvement intensify in each of the three main conflicts, some common judgments about escalatory spirals may be overlooked. Charts and graphical illustrations will aid with the explanation of Control Coding and escalatory spirals in the analysis. This particular investigation will provide knowledge about issues of control in relationships; also, it will illuminate the components of conflict that may not be recognized through a more cursory analysis.