Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine how the rational and experiential systems according to the cognitive-experiential self theory (CEST) are related to conflict-handling styles. Design/methodology/approach: Using a correlational design, data were collected using an on-line survey system examining CEST information-processing systems and five conflict-handling styles. A total of 426 undergraduate students, with paid jobs, complete the on-line survey. Findings: Results showed that the rational system, experiential system and constructive thinking had significant positive relationships with both the integrating and compromising conflict-handling styles. Additionally, the rational system had a positive relationship with the dominating conflict-handling style and the experiential system and constructive thinking had a positive relationship with the obliging conflict-handling style. The rational system and constructive thinking had a negative relationship with the avoiding conflict-handling style. Research limitations/implications: The study established a positive connection between CEST information-processing systems and conflict-handling styles among undergraduate students, however the results of the study may not be as directly comparable with real and established leaders. Originality/value: Being the first study to examine the connection between the CEST information-processing systems and the five conflict-handling styles, the paper offers interesting insights about how the choice of information-processing systems can influence the choice of conflict-handling styles across a wide range of situations.