Interpersonal Construct Differentiation and Conversational Planning An Examination of Two Cognitive Accounts for the Production of Competent Verbal Disagreement Tactics


  • The authors would like to thank Ed Woods for his assistance with data collection and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


This study examines three cognition-based theoretical explanations for variations in verbal disagreement tactics. The cognitive requirements of competent message production in conflict situations are examined first. Then the relative success of (a) an individual difference explanation (based on constructivist logic), (b) a situated cognition explanation (based on planning theory), and (c) a hybrid explanation in accounting for the use of competent verbal disagreement tactics is assessed. Results based on analysis of 40 dyadic interactions indicated that planning measures are strongly correlated with use of integrative conflict tactics. In addition, the individual difference measure (i.e., the Role Category Questionnaire) was strongly associated with the quality of plans. Results are interpreted as evidence of the need for integrative models that link individual differences in social cognition, conversational plans, and message behavior.