Discuss the role of communicatio

Discuss the role of communication in maintaining relationships

Role of attributions in the maintenance of relationships

Study to use: Fletcher et al. (1987) and/or Bradbury and Fincham (1990)

Gottman’s theory of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – communication that predicts marital dissatisfaction

  • Criticism: Making dispositional attributions (e.g. attacking the partner’s personality or character with the intent of making the partner wrong).


  • Contempt: Attacking the partner’s sense of self with the intention to insult or psychologically abuse him or her (e.g. hostility, sarcasm, mockery).
  • Defensiveness: Seeing yourself as a victim (e.g. making excuses by referring to factors out of your control, cross-complaining – listening to your partner’s complaint but returning it with a complaint of your own).
  • Stonewalling: Withdrawing from the relationship as a way to avoid (e.g. by silent treatment, monosyllabic response, or changing the subject.