Michael E. Roloff
Over the last two decades, the study of interpersonal influence has flourished. Substantial literatures now exist on both interpersonal compliance gaining ( Seibold, Cantrill, & Meyers, 1985; Boster, 1990) and conflict management ( Roloff, 1987a). Despite this immense activity, there remain important unresolved issues. One of the most intriguing and persistent is focused on the way in which influence is conducted in relationships of varying degrees of intimacy. Early on, intimacy was thought to be a critical factor determining the kinds of influence strategies that would be employed (e.g., Miller & Steinberg, 1975; Roloff, 1976) and it became a standard variable used in compliance-gaining research (e.g., Miller, Boster, Roloff, & Seibold, 1977; Kaminski, McDermott, & Boster, 1977; Roloff & Barnicott, 1978a, 1978b; Sillars, 1980; Cody, McLaughlin, & Schneider, 1981; see Chapter 5). However, despite evidence that individuals differentiate among compliance-gaining situations based upon the intimacy between persuader and target ( Cody & McLaughlin, 1980; Cody, Woelfel, & Jordan, 1983), intimacy proved to be a disappointing predictor of which compliance-gaining strategies are enacted. Indeed, Dillard and Burgoon ( 1985) concluded that their own "findings, in combination with earlier work, suggest that the role of intimacy in the compliance-gaining process is minimal" (p. 303).
Although Dillard and Burgoon's conclusion was justifiable given the available evidence, it may be overly pessimistic. In part, the small effect sizes and inconsistent directional effects often associated with intimacy may stem from inadequate attention to theory rather than its apparent inconsequential