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Relational Transgressions in Romantic Relationships: How Individuals Negotiate the Revelation and Concealment of Transgression Information within the Social Network

by Maier, Melissa A

Abstract (Summary)
This study examined how individuals negotiate the revelation and concealment of information following an act of infidelity within the social network. Research has shown that individuals experience a tension when deciding to reveal and/or conceal information regarding a relational transgression (Baxter, 1994, Baxter & Braithwaite, 2007). Drawing on dialectical tensions (Baxter, 1990), relational transgressions (Roloff & Cloven, 1994), and support networks (Cutrona and Suhr, 1992; Klein & Milardo, 2000), this project posed a number of research questions. Interviews were conducted with 22 participants regarding their communication following the discovery of an act of infidelity. Participants were asked to discuss who they did or did not tell about the infidelity, why they did or did not tell those individuals, and how they told them about the infidelity. Data from these interviews revealed participants view individuals who are sympathetic, trustworthy, and calm as supportive, and individuals who blame or pass judgment as critical. Participants also reported that revealing information to gain support, primarily informational and emotional support, was the most common motive for revealing, while concealing information to avoid evaluation was the most common reason for concealing. Individuals who were revealed to were considered both supportive and unsupportive when they provided advice to the participant. However, when network members failed to provide support to a participant, or tried to minimize the situation, they were seen as unsupportive. Participants experienced a number of tensions when deciding to reveal or conceal, including a desire to conceal the information but an expectation to reveal it due to the nature of the relationship. Participants used a few strategies to negotiate these tensions, including cyclic alternation, segmentation, and selection. These findings may have theoretical implications for dialectical tension research, particularly in the area of praxis patterns. Furthermore, they may be important in helping network members with future communication with individuals seeking support.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Christina Yoshimura, PhD; Betsy Bach, PhD; Celia Winkler

School:The University of Montana

School Location:USA - Montana

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:communication studies

ISBN:

Date of Publication:08/07/2008

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