Explaining One's Self to Others: Reason-Giving in a Social Context

By Margaret L. McLaughlin; Michael J. Cody et al. | Go to book overview

7
Excuses in Everyday Interaction
Bernard Weiner University of California, Los AngelesTo develop and maintain bonding with others, we must effectively use social conventions, social skills, and social strategies. If successful, then others will think and feel positively about themselves and us. If unsuccessful, however, then their interpersonal thoughts and feelings will be negative, thereby endangering relationships. The strategies that might be used to promote positive relationships include communication of acceptance, admiration, appreciation, compliments, and on and on; these may be somewhat unconscious, automatic reactions, or conscious and thoughtful ploys; and they may be truthful and reflect our beliefs and feelings, not directed by intended goals, or they may be fabrications guided by desired outcomes.In this chapter, I examine one communication strategy that manipulates the thoughts and feelings of others: namely, the giving of excuses. I will consider the following questions and issues:
1. How are excuses defined?
2. How prevalent are they?
3. What are the intentions or goals of excuse-givers?
4. What are the antecedents and social contexts for excuses?
5. What are the contents of excuses, that is, how can they be described?
6. How should the contents of excuses be taxonomized, or classified along
7. theoretically meaningful properties?
8. What is the excuse-giving process?

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