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Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) « Conflict « Surveys/Scales « Downloads

Date postedFebruary 7, 2012
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CategoriesConflict, Violence, Surveys/Scales


The Conflict Tactics Scale measure consists of 80 items developed by Straus (1979) to explore intrafamily conflict and violence, focusing particularly on the adults in the family. Of these 80 items, 20 are administered to the parent about his/her relationship with the child. The next 20 questions are directed to the parent about the partner and his/her interactions with the child. If there is no partner, these questions are not asked. The last 40 questions of the measure address the interactions between the parent and the parent’s partner using the same questions. The measure assesses how the parent reacts in a conflict with the child, such as trying to discuss an issue calmly, yelling at or insulting the child, stomping out of the room or house, threatening to spank the child, and hitting or trying to hit the child. The items gradually become more coercive and aggressive as they progress. The items are rated on a seven-point scale, ranging from 0=never to 6=almost every day.
This instrument has four scales: Parent-Child (Scale 1), Partner-Child (Scale 2), Parent-Partner (Scale 3), and Partner-Parent (Scale 4). The parent-child and partner-child conflict scales each have five subscales and the two parent-partner scales have four subscales each.

The standard instructions for the CTS ask what happened in the previous year. However, this can be modified to ask about other referent periods, such as since a relationship started, since a previous stage of a treatment program, or the previous month or 6 months.An alternate to a time period referent is a specific conflict or situation. It may be easier to recall what happened in relation to a specific conflict or situation than a time period. If so, it could produce more accurate information but at the cost of losing information ab~uott her situations and thus annual prevalence rates for violence.

The CTS is scored by adding the midpoints for the response categories chosen by the participant. The midpoints are the same as the response category numbers for Categories 0, 1, and 2. For Category 3 (3-5 times) the midpoint is 4, for Category 4 (6-10 times) it is 8, for Category 5 (1 1-20 times) it is 15, and for Category 6 (More than 20 times in the past year) we recommend using 25 as the midpoint.

Number of items versus number of questions. The 39 items in the CTS2 are designed to be asked about both the participant and the partner. Thus there are two questions for each item, making a total of 78 questions.The CTS2 is almost twice as long as the CTSl (39 compared with 19 items or 78 compared with 38 questions). Despite that,
the administration time for the CTS2 (10-15 min) is still brief enough to be practical in clinical settings or for inclusion in epidemiological surveys.

Murrary Straus

Western Psychological Services (WSP) Contact for use: Murray A. Straus Family Research Laboratory 126 Horton Social Science Center University of New Hampshire Durham, NH 03824 Tel: 603-862-2594 Email: Web:; Copyright 1995 Straus, Hamby, Boney-McCoy, & Sugarman. Reprinted with permission.

Straus, M. A. (1974). Leveling, civility, and violence in the family. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 36, 13-29.

Straus, M. A. (1979). Measuring intrafamily conflict and violence: The Conflict Tactics Scales. Jouml of Marriage and the Family, 41, 75-88.

Straus, M. A. (1990a). The Conflict Tactics Scale and its critics: An evaluation and new data on validity and reliability. In M. A. Straus & R. J. Gelles, Physicul violence in American families: Risk factors and adaptations to violence in 8,145 families (pp. 49-73). New Bmnswick, NJ: Transaction Publishing.

Straus, M. A. (1990b). Injury and frequency of assault and the “representative sample fallacy” in measuring wife beating and child abuse. In M. A. Straus & R. J. Gelles. Physical violence in American families: Risk factors and adaptations to violence in 8,145 families (pp. 75-91). New Bmnswick, NJ: Transaction Publishing.

Straus, M. A. (1993). Physical assaults by wives: A major social problem. In R. J. Gelles & D. Loseke (Erls.), Current controversies in family violence (pp. 67-87). Newbury Park. CA: Sage.

Straus, M. A. (1 995). Manual fur the Conflict Tmics Scales. Durham, NH: Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire.

Straus, M. A,, & Gelles, R. J. (1990a). How violent are American families? Estimates from the national family violence resurvey and other studies. In M. A. Straus & R. J. Gelles, Physical violence in Anterican families: Risk factors andadaptations to violence in 8,145 families (pp. 95- 112). New Bmnswick, NJ: Transaction Publishing.

Straus, M. A,, & Gelles, R. J. (1990b). Physical violence in American families: Risk factors andadaptations to violence in 8,145 families. New Bmnswick, NJ: Transaction Publishing. Straus, M. A., Gelles, R. J., & Steinmetz, S. K. (1980). Behindcloseddoors: Violence in the
Anterican family. NY: Doubleday/Anchor.

Straus. M. A,. & Hamby, S. L. (1995). Measuring physical andpsychological maltreatment of children with the Conflict Tactics Scales. Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire.

Straus, M. A,, Hamby, S. L.. Finkelhor, D., &Runyan, D. (1996). The Parent-Child Conflict Tactic Scales (PCCTS): Developinent and psychometric data for a national sample of parents. Manuscript in preparation.

CTS1 (original) Negotiation=0.86 Psychological aggression=0.79 Physical assault=0.86 Sexual coercion=0.87 Injury=0.95 CTS2 The internal consistency reliability of the CTS2 scales ranges from .79 to .95.