Thomas–Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

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The Thomas–Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) is a conflict style inventory, which is a tool developed to measure an individual's response to conflict situations.


A number of conflict style inventories have been in active use since the 1960s. Most of them are based on the managerial grid developed by Robert R. Blake and Jane Mouton in their managerial grid model. The Blake and Mouton model uses two axes: "concern for people" is plotted using the vertical axis and "concern for task" along the horizontal axis. Each axis has a numerical scale of 1 to 9. These axes interact so as to diagram five different styles of management. This grid posits the interaction of task with relationship and shows that according to how people value these, there are five basic ways of interacting with others.

In 1974, Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann introduced their Thomas–Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (Tuxedo NY: Xicom, 1974).


The Thomas–Kilmann Conflict Mode instrument consists of thirty pairs of statements. For each pair, the respondent must choose either the A or B item (for example, one item depicts collaborating while the other item describes avoiding). Each pair of statements was specifically designed, through a multi-stage research process, to be equal in social desirability.

The TKI uses two axes (influenced by the Mouton and Blake axes) called "assertiveness" and "cooperativeness."[1] The TKI identifies five different styles of conflict: Competing (assertive, uncooperative), Avoiding (unassertive, uncooperative), Accommodating (unassertive, cooperative), Collaborating (assertive, cooperative), and Compromising (intermediate assertiveness and cooperativeness).

In a 1978 published analysis of 86 responses, Thomas and Kilmann determined that the TKI exhibited moderate test-retest repeatability, moderate internal consistency (measured by Cronbach's alpha), and low to moderate correlation with three other instruments.[2]

The TKI is held under copyright and is not publicly available or accessible to be conducted without being purchased for each individual assessment.[3] Paper copies for purchase by the Myers Briggs Company (the current copyright holder) cost $21.95 USD per copy,[4] and an on-line administered assessment with 90 days download access costs $45 USD.[5]

The instrument is often used by students in conflict management classes or workshops.[6][7] It has also been used in psychological studies -- for example, to compare the conflict attitudes of college athletes and non-athletes.[8]

One criticism of the instrument was that it was given so often in employment situations, as one newspaper columnist wrote in 1993, "I’ve taken the test so many times I know what answers will get the desired outcome."[9] Others praise the TKI as a reliable, valid measure of personality.[10]


  1. ^ Blake, R. (1964). The Managerial Grid: The Key to Leadership Excellence. Gulf Publishing Co. ISBN 0884152529.
  2. ^ Thomas, Kenneth W.; Kilmann, Ralph H. (June 1978). "Comparison of Four Instruments Measuring Conflict Behavior". Psychological Reports. 42 (3_suppl): 1139–1145. doi:10.2466/pr0.1978.42.3c.1139. ISSN 0033-2941. S2CID 144733354.
  3. ^ "Kilmann Diagnostics Policies | Assessments and Learning Resources | TKI". Kilmann Diagnostics. Retrieved 2021-09-22.
  4. ^ "en - tkiitems". Retrieved 2021-09-22.
  5. ^ "Take the TKI Assessment Tool from Its Co-Author | Improve Your Skills". Kilmann Diagnostics. Retrieved 2021-09-22.
  6. ^ "'Conflict' class". Hawaii Tribune-Herald. March 17, 2002. p. 26. Retrieved May 21, 2022 – via
  7. ^ "Leadership Waupuca holds class on conflict management". The Post-Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin). November 11, 2003. p. 13. Retrieved May 21, 2022 – via
  8. ^ "Girl Athletes Are More Competitive". Dawson Springs (Kentucky) Progress. August 8, 1996. p. B4. Retrieved May 21, 2022 – via
  9. ^ Barker, Robin (November 12, 1993). "Don't expect Bush's style in Clinton". Bellingham (Washington) Herald. p. B4. Retrieved May 21, 2022 – via
  10. ^ Saar, Shalom Saada (February 13, 2005). "Know thyself 101". Boston Globe. p. F12. Retrieved May 21, 2022 – via

11. Kenneth W. Thomas & Ralph H. Kilmann (1974) , "Conflict Mode Instrument, "XICOM Incorporated, 33rd Printing 1991