Relational Framing Theory: Drawing Inferences About Relationships From Interpersonal Interactions

Rachel M. McLaren, Denise Haunani Solomon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Relational framing theory explains how people make sense of ambiguous messages about relationships with others. According to the theory, people make sense of the relational component of messages (as opposed to the content of messages) by interpreting them as indicators of either dominance-submissiveness or affiliation-disaffiliation, and they evaluate how much people are engaged in the interaction to infer the intensity of the relational messages. These dimensions act as cognitive frames that support people’s inferences about the relationship between communicators. The authors trace the rich intellectual tradition of the theory, illustrate the process of relational judgments through examples, and discuss future opportunities and directions for the theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEngaging Theories in Interpersonal Communication
Subtitle of host publicationMultiple Perspectives, 3rd Edition
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781000457018
ISBN (Print)9780367425296
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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