Sense-making activities and interpersonal conflict: Communicative cures for the mulling blues

Denise H. Cloven, Michael E. Roloff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Cognitive and communicative activities directed toward understanding disputes in ongoing relationships are argued to influence perceptions of problem seriousness and partner responsibility. In the present study, results associated with major conflicts suggest mulling about disputes increases perceived severity of conflicts and the likelihood partners are blamed. Frequent communication activity and integrative interactions attenuated the negative effects of prolonged thought, whereas discussions characterized by distributiveness magnified the repercussions associated with conflict related thought. These relationships were not apparent in minor problem contexts, and avoidant behaviors during conflict interactions had no effect on the impact of mulling. Discussion of implications focuses on the impact of sensemaking activities on defining conflicts, conflict resolution strategies, and directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-158
Number of pages25
JournalWestern Journal of Speech Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication


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