Measuring the sources and content of relational uncertainty

Leanne K. Knobloch, Denise Haunani Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

303 Scopus citations


Uncertainty reduction theory suggests that the self, the partner, and the relationship constitute three sources of uncertainty within interpersonal relationships; however, existing operationaliza-tions of uncertainty focus predominately on partner issues. More recent extensions of the uncertainty construct to developed relationships call for a measure that both captures the range of uncertainty as originally conceptualized and attends to the uncertainty issues relevant in ongoing associations. We conducted a study of individuals in dating relationships to develop a measure that assesses the sources and content of relational uncertainty. Results identified three content issues for uncertainty focused on either the self or the partner: desire for the relationship, evaluation of the relationship, and goals for the relationship. Uncertainty about the relationship encompassed four content issues: behavioral norms for the relationship, mutuality of feelings between the partners, current definition of the relationship, and future of the relationship. A second-order factor analysis demonstrated that whereas uncertainty about self versus partner were empirically distinct, items assessing relationship uncertainty cross-loaded on both the self and partner uncertainty factors. The discussion highlights how a more nuanced conceptualization of relational uncertainty can inform future investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-278
Number of pages18
JournalCommunication Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication


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