Interpersonal Communication: Evolving Interpersonal Relationships

By Pamela J. Kalbfleisch | Go to book overview
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13
Preservation of Relational
Characteristics: Maintenance
Strategies, Equity, and
Locus of Control

Daniel J. Canary1 Ohio University

Laura Stafford Ohio State University

Over the last decade, communication scholars have turned their attention to the study of how people sustain their mature, personal relationships (e.g., Ayres, 1983; Dindia & Baxter, 1987). Personal relationships refer to involvements with others that cannot be replaced; to replace the specific person means changing the nature of the relationship ( Duck, Lock, McCall, Fitzpatrick, & Cayne, 1984). Social relationships, on the other hand, refer to those based on stereotypic knowledge of the other person (see also Miller, 1978). Those in social involvements can be replaced without jeopardizing the nature of the relationship (see also Duck et al., 1984). The study of relational maintenance is definitionally anchored to the study of close, personal relationships.

Communication researchers have specifically focused on interaction-based approaches or strategies people use to maintain their personal relationships (see Ayres, 1983; Baxter & Dindia, 1990; Bell, Daly, & Gonzalez, 1987; Dindia & Baxter, 1987; Shea & Pearson, 1986). These research efforts share little conceptual or operational territory, however. For example, Ayres ( 1983) and Shea and Pearson ( 1986) identified relational maintenance as efforts to sustain the status quo. Baxter and Dindia ( 1990; cf., Dindia & Baxter, 1987) conceptualize maintenance as responses to dialectical tensions common to personal involvements (e.g., autonomy needs vs. interdependence needs). Finally, Bell et al. ( 1987) link maintenance to affinity seeking, where the communicator sustains his/her relationship by increasing the partner's affinity.

____________________
1
The authors wish to thank Lynn Phelps, Claudia Hale, and Susan Yost for their assistance with data collection.

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