Evaluating a Contextual Model of Responses to Relational Uncertainty Increasing Events

The Role of Intimacy, Appraisals, and Emotions


K. Knobloch, Department of Speech Communication, University of Illinois, 244 Lincoln Hall, 702 S. Wright St., Ur-bana, IL, 61801. Email: knobl@uiuc.edu.


This study formulates and tests a contextual model of communication about events that increase relational uncertainty within courtship (N = 278 participants). Intimacy is examined as a feature of the distal context, and appraisals and emotions are investigated as features of the proximal context. As expected, intimacy coincided with positively-valenced behaviors (Hypothesis 1). Appraisals also explained variance in behaviors (Hypothesis 2), especially attentional activity, relevance, obstacle, power, and legitimacy (Research Question 1). With some exceptions, emotions predicted behaviors beyond the effects of appraisals (Hypothesis 3, Research Question 2). Emotions partially mediated the association between appraisals and behaviors (Hypothesis 4), but intimacy, appraisals, and emotions were all unique predictors of behaviors (Hypothesis 5), and intimacy did not moderate the effects of appraisals or emotions on behaviors (Research Question 3). Although the pattern of covariation was consistent across the self-reported and hypothetical events, the self-reported events generated more negatively-valenced appraisals, emotions, and behaviors than the hypothetical events (Research Question 4). The discussion examines how knowledge can accumulate by assimilating features of the distal and proximal contexts.