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Causal Uncertainty and Romantic Relationships
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Causal uncertainty (CU) is a social cognitive construct where individuals believe that they may not accurately understand the cause and effect nature of social events (Weary & Edwards, 1994). Research examining how CU in stranger, roommate, and friendship dyads has demonstrated that CU is associated with negative perceptions of these relationships (i.e., decreased liking), but the research on CU and romantic relationships is limited (i.e., Boucher, 2015; Needham, 2015). Therefore, I conducted three studies to examine how CU is associated with conflict conversations concerning a recent issue (Study 1), conflict conversations about why a recent argument took place (Study 2) and relationship variables over time (Study 3). In Study 1, data were collected from 100 romantic dyads who engaged in a conversation about a recent issue in their relationship. I used the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM) and found a significant CU actor by CU partner interaction. Examining this interaction further I found that at higher levels of partner CU, higher actor CU was associated with viewing a conflict conversation as more effective (p = .039). Whereas, at lower levels of partner CU, higher actor CU was associated with perceiving the conversation as being less effective (p = .023). In Study 2, data from 73 romantic dyads were used to examine perceptions of two conversations about why their last disagreement took place. APIM analyses demonstrated that higher actor CU was associated with finding both conversations about why a recent argument took place as less appropriate (ps ≤ .002). In Study 3, I examined several relationship variables over an approximate 8-week period for 533 undergraduates. I conducted linear regression analyses using CU scores at Time 1 to predict Time 2 dependent relationship variable scores, controlling for relationship variable scores at Time 1. Higher causal uncertainty was associated with greater belief that disagreement within a relationship is unhealthy. Further research focusing on this belief could help untangle how high causally uncertain individuals engage in conflict conversations and implement conflict coping strategies. In addition, research could help disentangle when appropriateness versus effectiveness are important for high causally uncertain individuals to successfully navigate a conversation.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/26620
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