Relational Turbulence Theory: Explaining Variation in Subjective Experiences and Communication Within Romantic Relationships

Denise Haunani Solomon, Leanne K. Knobloch, Jennifer A. Theiss, Rachel M. McLaren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Scopus citations


This essay extends the relational turbulence model as a framework for understanding communication in romantic relationships. Following the relational turbulence model, relational turbulence theory identifies relational uncertainty and interdependence as parameters that shape subjective experiences, but the theory clarifies the theoretical processes underlying their distinctive effects. In addition, relational turbulence theory articulates causal processes linking cognitive appraisals and emotions to communication. Relational turbulence theory also describes how episodes characterized by biased appraisals, intense emotions, and volatile communication coalesce into global evaluations of relationships as turbulent. In turn, the theory addresses the effect of relational turbulence on personal, relational, and social outcomes. Finally, the theory explains how communication can contribute to the development of both turbulence and resilience in romantic relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-532
Number of pages26
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language

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