Previous research indicating that a dating partner's power exerts a chilling effect on confrontation has highlighted the role of anticipated negative consequences in decisions to withhold complaints. We suggested that a second reason for avoiding confrontation, perceiving problems to be trivial, is also promoted by attributing power to dating partners. We investigated the extent to which perceptions of a partner's power influenced the appraised severity of hypothetical problem scenarios and the likelihood that individuals would avoid confrontation in those situations. Results indicated that attributing either dependence or punitive power to dating partners corresponded with less severe appraisals of problems and plans to avoid confrontation. Contrary to our expectations, problem severity appraisals did not mediate associations between perceptions of a partner's power and plans to avoid confrontation. The discussion highlights the implications of these results for investigations of power in dating relationships and research on relationship maintenance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science