Rational actors: Channel selection and rational choices in romantic conflict episodes

Brandi N. Frisby, David Westerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The proliferation of communication technologies creates many questions about these tools' relational uses and effects. Rational Actor Theory posits that individuals consider the benefits and costs of using a channel for communicating a particular message. This study applied Rational Actor Theory to individuals' (N = 129) channel choices during conflict episodes in their romantic relationships. Results indicated that partners using both integrating and avoiding conflict styles prefer face-to-face channels, while people using dominating styles prefer computer-mediated channels. Channel choice for conflict was not predicted by relationship length, type, or satisfaction. Only integrating and obliging conflict styles predicted relationship satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)970-981
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • channel
  • computer-mediated communication
  • conflict style
  • conflict topic
  • interpersonal
  • relationship satisfaction
  • romantic relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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