3 things that predict roommate conflict

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99Agree is the pioneer, leader and innvoator in research on roommate relationships since 2009.

These are 3 things that predict roommate conflict and what you can do about it

by Marcie Tucker, Ph.D., CEO 99Agree

Alcohol Use

Probably no surprise here.

Finding  “Roommates who have significantly different approaches to alcohol are more likely to have roommate conflicts than roommates who have a similar approach to alcohol (Marcie Tucker, Ph.D., CEO, 99Agree research study 2015)”.  Roommates should definitely have this conversation early on in the roommate agreement process. If you don’t like confrontation waiting until it’s an issue overstresses your communication abilities and contains high-intensity emotions.


  •  Include in roommate agreement Whether you are under or of age, you need to talk with each other about any negative impacts of alcohol usage may have on your academic status (scholarship or military eligibility); or if there is a resulting conduct case involving any of the roommates; or if you have social gatherings involving alcohol who will be responsible before, during, and after the party and who will manage clean up. 99Agree’s app helps you do this easily.
  • Role Play – most effective in a 1:1 setting with a trusted coach or advisor to practice how to handle the situation and practice their responses (if you need help with this email me at marcie@99agree.com).
  • Promote effective communication strategiescreate a social media or bulletin board with tips and strategies for handling difficult conversations; or create a pinterest board with effective suggestions.


Finding “Roommates in a traditional on-campus housing setting who have a larger age difference are at a greater risk for roommate conflict than those who are closer in age (Marcie Tucker, Ph.D., CEO, 99Agree research study 2015)”. What this may mean is that traditional-age freshman and their families may have an expectation for the roommate to be a significant friend who is going through the same transition process. When the campus norm is not to assign upper (juniors/seniors) and lower (first year/second year) students, the first year students may more vigorously advocate for a room change in the hopes of obtaining a roommate in their same year. In cases where campuses routinely assign roommates among various class divisions, this predictor may not be as strong.


  • Connecting to an upper division student is one of the key strategies for incoming students – It may be great if this person is your roommate and you find that you can connect with each other. If you don’t connect with this person, then all is not lost – focus on your creativity in meeting people in other ways.
  • Keep an open mind – Whether the person is your best friend or a random assignment, when you have an open mind you may be able to more effectively set expectations which make for better relationships overall.

Sleep Patterns

Finding “Roommates who had larger differences in their sleep preference scores were at greater risk of roommate conflict” (Marcie Tucker, Ph.D., CEO, 99Agree research student 2015). It’s important to know if you’re a night owl or an early bird; if you have early morning or evening classes; if you need quiet and dark versus lots of sound and light, etc. Sleep deprivation is a key factor in increased anxiety and academic stress – when you aren’t getting the sleep you need to be successful it drives all your wellness factors.


  • Be considerate of each other – This is where your freedom ends where someone else’s begins. You have to accommodate each other’s needs – the room can’t be just like a library 24/7 nor can it be party central 24/7. If someone is always sleeping throughout the day that impacts how the roommate(s) can function in the space; likewise if friends are always over and it’s loud it can have similar impacts. 
  • Roommate agreement expectation – Talk about your time commitments and how you’ll manage different schedules, when to use headphones, etc. 
  • When appropriate use headphonesSometimes you can use headphones – they have some that you can wear while you’re sleeping and include an eye mask. 
  • Safety concerns When someone is sleeping they are vulnerable or may have an expectation of privacy. You should talk about this with your roommate(s) during the roommate agreement process.

©2018 99Agree

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