Responses to identity attacks: A new look at relational conflict.
AuthorPayne, Michael James
Committee ChairBurgoon, Judee K.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe importance of structural aspects of relationships has been overlooked by conflict researchers studying communication during relational conflicts. Identities are developed, maintained and damaged via interaction with others. Due to the interdependence between identities and social interaction, the inherent need to include identities in relational conflict research seems obvious. Because identities are inherently connected to a relationship, it provides a structural element for the study of relational conflict interaction. Describing and categorizing communication choices and characteristics of messages used during conflict is important. However, although we can explain what behaviors occur, a basis for why certain communicative alternatives are chosen over others still goes unanswered. Incorporating a structural approach to relational conflict may begin to explain why certain communicative choices are made in conflict situations. The focus of this study was directed toward the relationship between identities and communicative responses in relational conflict. More specifically, this study has three primary goals: First, to examine communication responses in relational conflict based on the structural features of relationships; second, to assess how communication patterns differ across different types of relationships during conflict interactions; and third, to test the utility of INTERACT, an identity-based computer interaction program, as a viable alternative for studying relational interaction. Participants completed a relational information packet about one of three identities: romantic partner, close friend, or classmate. Included in the packet were scales assessing identity salience and identity commitment. The packet also contained a conflict scenario requiring participants to respond to identity damaging remarks. These responses were coded for message activity and message constructiveness. Participants completed a disruption measure to determine the amount of damage caused by the statements in the conflict scenario. The scenarios in the relational information packet contained rejecting or accepting messages to the participants' responses. Results revealed positive relationships between identity salience, identity commitment and disruption. Further, disruption and partner response type were found to directly influence responses to identity damaging remarks and identity commitment was found to influence the amount of disruption caused by identity damaging remarks.