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Title:Examining the role of uncertainty and goals in the threat of relationship talk and associations with avoidance, indirectness, and communication satisfaction
Author(s):McAninch, Kelly
Director of Research:Knobloch, Leanne
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Knobloch, Leanne
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Caughlin, John; Poole, Marshall S.; Ogolsky, Brian
Department / Program:Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Relationship Talk
Romantic Relationships
Relational Uncertainty
Communication Goals
Communication Satisfaction
Indirect Communication
Topic Avoidance
Abstract:Relationship talk, or communication about the connection between partners, is associated with both dyadic benefits and relational risks. My dissertation project proposes a model to explain romantic partners’ perceptions of threat, indirect enactment, and avoidance of relationship talk and the association these factors share with communication satisfaction. I integrate theory on uncertainty and goals to create my model, which holds that relational uncertainty is associated with higher perception of threat, and relational uncertainty interacts with goals to explain the threat of relationship conversations. My model also hypothesizes that when people deem relationship talk threatening, they are more likely to avoid the conversations or deliver messages indirectly. Finally, I investigate how these communicative actions are associated with communication satisfaction. To test my model, I collected data from 69 college romantic dyads who engaged in a video-recorded conversation about their relationship. I combined observational and self-report procedures for a multi-method approach and I used multi-level modeling to test my model. Results provided partial or mixed evidence for my model. Typically, threat increases as relational uncertainty increases, and certain goals are deemed more threatening than others. When partners perceive threat, they generally report more indirect messages and avoidance. Disparate reports between participants’ self-reported behaviors and outside observers’ ratings of indirectness and avoidance suggest differences between insider and outsider perspectives of relationship talk. Partners judged conversations more negatively as indirect relationship talk and avoidance of relationship talk increased, but this association was limited to two of the seven communication variables. The findings highlight the use of relational uncertainty and communication goals as a guide for examining variation in people’s perceptions of relationship talk.
Issue Date:2015-07-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Kelly McAninch
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:August 201

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