Relational messages, perceptions of hurt, and biological stress reactions to a disconfirming interaction

Jennifer S. Priem, Rachel M. McLaren, Denise Haunani Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This study examines relational messages as predictors of hurt, using both self-report indicators of hurt and biological markers of stress reactivity to a hurtful interaction. Hypotheses predict that perceptions of involvement, composure, and receptivity increase feelings of hurt, whereas perceptions of similarity, affiliation, and informality decrease hurt. Participants (N = 91) engage in two 5-minute conversations with a romantic partner about core traits and values. The partner is coached to be disconfirming and hurtful during the second conversation about the participant's core traits or values. Following the interaction, participants report their level of hurt and their perceptions of the conversation and give saliva samples to measure cortisol. The hypotheses are partially supported, such that perceptions of affiliation and informality are negatively associated with hurt feelings. Furthermore, self-reported hurt feelings are positively associated with increases in salivary cortisol. Affiliation and receptivity also have direct effects on the stability of cortisol change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-72
Number of pages25
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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