A Model of the Perceived Competence of Conflict Strategies



    1. Daniel J. Canary (Ph.D, University of Southern California, 1983) is an Associate Professor, Department of Speech Communication, California State University, Fullerton.
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    1. Brian H. Spitzberg (Ph.D., University of Southern California, 1981) is an Associate Professor, Division of Communication and Public Address, University of North Texas, Denton. Portions of this article were presented at the Western Speech Communication Association, February 1986, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The authors wish to thank Richard Serpe for his assistance with the LISREL VI analyses.
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This study examines how strategic communication is linked to specific relational features. We hypothesize that perceptions of a communicator's competence mediate the effects of conflict strategies on the relational outcomes measured by trust, control mutuality, intimacy, and satisfaction. The components of competence were specific and general appropriateness, effectiveness, and global competence; these were included in LISREL analyses to investigate How the variables conflict, competence, and relational outcomes were linked. Participants reported on their partners’ conflict strategies, their own perceptions of the partner's competence, and relational variables. The results reveal that integrative strategies were positively linked to competence, whereas distributive and avoidant strategies were negatively linked to competence. The results support the view that competence perceptions mediate the link between conflict messages and relational outcomes.