The effect of request form and content on constructing obstacles to compliance

Gaylen D. Paulson, Michael E. Roloff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In this article, we explore the degree to which the language used in a request affects both the way it is perceived and the refusals that it prompts. Accordingly, we conducted an experiment in which we manipulated the form and the content of date requests. Request forms that addressed an obstacle were perceived to be more conventional and more polite, and were met with more polite refusals than were request forms that did not specify an obstacle. Furthermore, when the request content included a specific time for the date, refusers generated more unstable obstacles than when no time was proposed. Conversely, time-ambiguous requests were met with more stable obstacles than were time-specific requests. Contrary to our expectations, the amount of face work in the discourse of a refusal was unaffected by request form and was marginally related to request content. Implications for requesters and refusers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-290
Number of pages30
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of request form and content on constructing obstacles to compliance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this