events that should be strictly prevented, hidden, or quickly fixed. But like other problematic areas of social interaction, the dark elements of predicaments tend to obscure some of the functional aspects of their occurrence.
Predicaments permit people to cope constructively with the imperfect fit between expectations and social performance that is often inevitable in social interaction. They play an important role in socializing actors regarding the inappropriateness of certain behaviors. The aversive nature of emotions associated with predicaments teaches us the existence of social norms, as well as the importance of maintaining our own dignity and showing respect to others. Predicaments therefore offer a social mechanism for regulating interpersonal behavior in a civil manner.
As well as facilitating interpersonal control, predicaments can foster affiliation between people. Getting caught in a predicament shows one's fallible side, which may ultimately facilitate attraction. Successfully repairing a predicament demonstrates one's interpersonal competence. An important byproduct of this competence is that individuals cooperate to help each other save face and thereby confirm their identities. Indeed, predicaments are not infrequently engineered by partners as a mechanism to foster solidarity in their relationship ( Sharkey, 1993). In short, predicaments are endemic to social interaction. When they are managed competently, they allow people to save face, coordinate mutually shared meanings, and regulate interpersonal behavior.
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