Refocusing the lens of interpersonal persuasion research: message receiver-related variables and compliance resistance in various relational contexts

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This dissertation examined compliance resistance to highlight the active role of message receivers or persuasion targets in compliance interactions. Through the data gathered from an online survey, eight research questions and four hypotheses were addressed. Among the three demographic variables tested, only gender had a significant impact on compliance resistance. Findings from a qualitative content analysis revealed eight major and three minor categories of compliance-resistance situations. The eight major categories were (1) request for company or presence, (2) request for action, (3) request associated with negative emotion, (4) request for material support, (5) request for relational commitment, (6) request characterized by mutual gains, (7) request involving other individuals, and (8) request favoring the target. The three subclassifications which made up the second major classification were (1) request for action benefiting the agent, (2) request for action benefiting other people, and (3) request for action benefiting the agent’s interpersonal circle. The messages utilized to communicate noncompliance were grouped into three: (1) refusal with another verbal message, (2) refusal associated with emotion and/ or reason, and (3) refusal with no other remark. The first category was further broken down into more precise classifications: (1) refusal with a simple explanation, (2) refusal with a message of apology and/ or gratitude, (3) refusal with an offer of future commitment, (4) refusal with a proposal of alternative, and (5) refusal with an ambiguous interaction description. Results of statistical analyses indicated that the three dimensions of self-perceived credibility had significant positive correlations with compliance resistance. There were also significant positive relationships between and among intention to refuse compliance, perceived control over refusal to comply, and compliance resistance. Although interpersonal relationship types did not significantly influence noncompliance, two relational variables—immediate interpersonal trust and relational closeness—had significant correlations with compliance resistance. Post-hoc analysis demonstrated that four of the major variables examined in this dissertation could significantly predict compliance resistance. Overall, the findings support the current study’s central argument that persuasion targets are active participants in compliance situations.

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