A Dual Perspective on the Management of Relational Transgressions in Romantic Relationships
Cionea, Ioana Andreea
Fink, Edward L.
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Relational transgressions are important events that affect romantic relationships. The current research analyzed the cognitive and communicative processes people use to frame a transgression. A structural equation model was proposed to test fifteen hypotheses and to examine five research questions. Several factors were hypothesized to influence the attributions partners make about the transgression and the perceived importance of three types of goals, which, in turn, affect one's orientation toward a particular dialogue type, which affects the perceived resolvability of the transgression and partners' satisfaction with its management. Two experiments were conducted. Undergraduate students (N = 437) in dating relationships participated in the first experiment, and older adults in married relationships (N = 276) participated in the second experiment. Participants were randomly assigned to hypothetical scenarios in which one's role in the transgression, the frequency of the transgression, and the type of transgression (only in the first experiment) were manipulated. All participants provided information about themselves and their romantic relationships, read a hypothetical scenario, and provided answers using magnitude scales to items assessing the dependent measures. Results indicated that the proposed model for the management of relational transgressions fit the data acceptably. One's role in the transgression and one's sample type (i.e., dating undergraduates vs. older, married adults) were important factors that differentiated how people manage relational transgressions. Dialogue types were predicted well by attributions and goals. Resolvability was predicted by positive dialogue types. The negotiation dialogue orientation was the only one that made people satisfied with the management of the transgression. The study's limitations and directions for future research are discussed.