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Relational Uncertainty

Leanne K. Knobloch

Subject Interpersonal Communication » Communication and Relationships
Sociology » Social Psychology

Key-Topics emotion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Relational uncertainty is the degree of confidence people have in their perceptions of involvement within interpersonal relationships. The construct has its roots in →  Uncertainty Reduction Theory (URT ; Berger & Calabrese 1975 ), which emphasized the relevance of uncertainty to interactions between strangers (→  Initial Interaction ). As scholars began to examine URT in the domain of close relationships, they recognized the need to reconceptualize uncertainty in ways that attended to features of intimate associations ( Knobloch 2010 ). The relational uncertainty construct was developed to fill this void. Relational uncertainty is an umbrella term that refers to ambiguity arising from self, partner, and relationship sources ( Berger & Bradac 1982 ). Self-uncertainty indexes the questions people have about their own participation in the relationship (“How certain am I about my goals for this relationship?”). Partner uncertainty involves the doubts individuals experience about their partner's participation in the relationship (“How certain am I about my partner's goals for this relationship?”). Relationship uncertainty is the ambiguity people feel about the state of the relationship itself (“How certain am I about the future of this relationship?”). Whereas self and partner uncertainty encompass questions about individuals, relationship uncertainty exists at a higher ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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