Hopelessness and Interpersonal Conflict: Antecedents and Consequences of Losing Hope

Courtney Waite Miller, Michael E. Roloff, Rachel M. Reznik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research on intractable conflict indicates that difficult conflicts often are associated with a sense of hopelessness about the potential for resolution. We argue that hopelessness arises from individuals who want another to change and whose arguments evidence self demand/other withdraw and mutual hostility. The sense of hopelessness arising from these patterns is related to avoidance after an argument and withdrawing support and affection. We conducted a survey of undergraduates about their arguments with parents and romantic partners. As predicted, the correlations between desire for change and withdrawal of support/affection and desire for change and avoidance were positive and statistically significant. A mediation analysis confirmed our hypotheses. The relationships between desire for change and withdrawal of support/affection and avoidance were mediated by self demand/other withdraw and hopelessness. Similarly, the relationships between desire for change and withdrawal of support/affection and avoidance were mediated by mutual hostility and hopelessness. We discuss implications for research on serial arguing, intractable conflict, and destructive communication behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)563-585
Number of pages23
JournalWestern Journal of Communication
Volume78
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2014

Keywords

  • Demand/Withdrawal
  • Hopelessness
  • Mutual Hostility
  • Relational Disengagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics

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