Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Science
When we become dissatisfied with the actions of a close partner, we face a decision: to disclose our concerns to the other person (voice), or to instead remain silent. Past research suggests that degree of dissatisfaction and issue importance are not important predictors of this decision, however, research on communication in relationships points to the potential importance of outcome expectancies. Previous research has primarily focused on expectancies for relationship outcomes, however, and has yet to consider the relative contribution of expectancies for instrumental outcomes. Four studies assessed the hypothesis that instrumental expectancies are most important for how much a person voices, while relational expectancies are most important for the manner of voice. In Studies 1 and 2, participants were asked to think of a relational dissatisfaction that they were considering disclosing to the other person. Participants rated their degree of dissatisfaction, the importance of the issue, and their expected consequences of voice for relational and instrumental outcomes. Participants also rated their intentions to voice, and in Study 2, one week later, reported how much they actually did voice. In Study 3, participants described daily dissatisfactions with a roommate at the end of each day, and rated their degree of dissatisfaction, the importance of the issue, their retrospective expectancies for relational and instrumental outcomes, and how much they voiced. In Study 4, participants followed the same procedure as Studies 1 and 2, but they also rated their intentions and behavior for 2 different styles of voice: positive voice and negative voice. Expectancies for instrumental outcomes emerged as the sole unique predictor of general voice intentions and behavior across all studies. Expectancies for relationship outcomes, however, differentiated between positive and negative voice. Thus, when participants thought voice would solve the problem they were more likely to speak up in general. However, when they thought the other person would respond positively to the discussion they were more likely to voice in a friendly, constructive manner, and less likely to voice in a hostile, destructive manner.
McCarthy, Megan H., "Raising an Issue in a Relationship: I’ll Tell You What’s Wrong, But Only If I Think It Will Help" (2010). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 1007.