Appraisals and distancing responses to hurtful messages

Rachel M. McLaren, Denise Haunani Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The goal of this article is to clarify the conditions under which intensity of hurt influences how much people distance themselves from hurtful friends or dating partners. This article draws on appraisal theories of emotion, which explain both the causes and consequences of emotions, to derive predictions about the role of variables relevant to hurtful episodes. The authors replicate previous research designs for the study of hurtful messages to test the hypotheses and research questions. Results reveal significant main effects for intensity of hurt, perceived intentionality, relational quality, and frequency of hurt on relational distancing. Additionally, perceived intentionality and frequency of hurt moderated the association between intensity of hurt and relational distancing, contingent on the respondent's sex and the type of relationship. The discussion highlights the utility of appraisal theories of emotion as a framework for the study of hurtful experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-357
Number of pages19
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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