Memory Structures for Relational Decay

A Cognitive Test of Sequencing of De-escalating Actions and Stages



On the basis of memory structure research, a series of four studies was conducted to determine whether individuals (1) could generate memory structures for de-escalating relationships, (2) agree on the rank ordering of expected actions, (3) distinguish between the typicality of and necessity for the behaviors in relationship decay, and (4) segment prototypical scenes of deteriorating relationships in a time-ordered linear sequence. A number of hypotheses and research questions regarding the generation and processing of expectations for relationship decay are discussed. Results reveal a prototypical mete-memory structure of deterioniting relationships containing 11 actions that could be understood in terms of four underlying factors with slight variations between the perceptions of typicality and necessity of various behaviors. Gender differences, the presence of inferences interspersed among behaviors, and the effect of previous relational histories are discussed in terms of memory structures. Implications for additional research and the development of a stage-appropriate, communication typology an forecast.