Goal variability in serial argumentation
Worley, Timothy Ryan
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This dissertation examined associations between variability and incongruity in interactants’ goals, messages and conflict outcomes during serial argumentation. Seventy-five heterosexual romantic couples engaged in a ten-minute video-recorded discussion of a real-life, ongoing relational argument. Following discussions, each member of the dyad individually reviewed video of the interaction and reported the salience of self, partner, relationship, and task goals at one-minute intervals. Goal variability was conceptualized as the overall degree of variation in individuals’ goals across the course of an interaction. Females’ self- and task goal variability, along with males’ partner goal variability, had negative linear associations with male perceptions of conflict resolution; these associations were not observed for females’ perceptions of resolution. Goal incongruity, defined as discrepancy between partners’ goal ratings at the same time point, was not generally associated with conflict resolution or incidence of dyadic demand-withdrawal conflict patterns. Finally, individuals’ goals at one minute were associated with some partner goals at the next minute. However, contrary to predictions, these associations were not mediated by individuals’ verbal messages.