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Conflict between relationally uncertain romantic partners: the influence of relational responsiveness and empathy

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Abstract:

The management of conflict in close dating relationships was examined through a relational competence model. This model of competence emphasizes the need for appropriate and effective behaviors. The current study explored appropriateness by assessing relational messages that are prescriptively expected during conflict, the association between relational responsiveness and communication satisfaction, and the influence of empathic processes on relational responsiveness for couples who were relationally uncertain (i.e., contemplated breaking-up). Findings indicate that people expect their relational partners to convey messages of affiliation and non-dominance during disagreements of important issues. The results also reveal that behaving in ways that meet or positively exceed expectancies are associated with more satisfaction. This is especially true for dominance. Finally, the evidence suggests that empathy is not for everyone. Attempts at being more empathic can result in less relational responsiveness.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03637750128071

Affiliations: Department of Speech, University of Hawaii at Manoa, George Hall 333, 2560 Campus Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822. Telephone: (808) 956-3321,. Electronic mail may be sent via Internet to aebesu@hawaii.edu., Fax: (808) 956-3947

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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