Understanding uncertainty, communication efficacy, and avoidance following the discovery of a relational partner's deception: the mediating role of communication efficacy
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When individuals experience events that increase their uncertainty in close relationships, they either engage in conversation about the event or avoid discussing it with their partner (Planalp & Honeycutt, 1985). Some scholars suggest that individuals’ perceptions of their communication efficacy influence their decision to avoid talking about particular events with others (Afifi & Weiner, 2004). The main goal of the current study was to examine the associations between uncertainty (e.g., self, partner, relationship uncertainty), communication efficacy, and avoidance and to test communication efficacy as a possible mediator connecting uncertainty and avoidance following the discovery of a relational partner’s deception. This study also explored whether or not relationship length, current relationship standing, outcome assessment, information importance, partner honesty, satisfaction, and commitment are possible predictors of avoidance behavior when individuals discover their partner’s lie. Two hundred forty-five participants who reported being deceived by their relational partner completed the study. Analyses have revealed that uncertainty (e.g., partner and relationship uncertainty) and communication efficacy were negatively associated, and the three types of uncertainty were negatively associated with communication efficacy. In addition to these findings, the current study found that communication efficacy was the main predictor of avoidance when individuals believe that their partner lied to them. Moreover, it was discovered that communication efficacy was a mediator linking the association between partner and relationship uncertainty and avoidance. In other words, partner and relationship uncertainty influence avoidance through communication efficacy. Finally, relationship length, current relationship standing, outcome assessment, information importance, partner honesty, satisfaction, and commitment were not significant predictors of avoidance.