Well That Was Unexpected: Effect of Intimacy and Commitment on Responses to an Interpersonal Expectancy Violation

Norman Wong


This investigation explored the effect an individual’s level of relational commitment and intimacy has on his or her perceptions of and responses to a positive or negative expectancy violation performed by their dating partner. One hundred-ninety undergraduates were randomly assigned to read 1 of 4 scenarios depicting a situation involving their dating partner committing either a positive/negative expectancy violation. Participants were asked to assess the situation in terms of the nature of the expectancy violation (positive/negative), violation severity, and level of unexpectedness. Moreover, they were asked the extent to which they were willing to talk about the situation with the other person. Results found that perceived intensity of violations varied depending on both the nature of the expectancy violation and commitment/intimacy level. Highly committed/intimate respondents reported greater willingness to discuss negative expectancy violations with the other person than less committed/intimate respondents, but reported lower likelihood in using negativity as their strategy. Less committed/intimate respondents reported greater willingness to discuss positive expectancy violations compared to their highly committed/intimate counterparts.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/smc.v6i2.3586


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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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