chapter  8
Romantic Serial Argument Perceived Resolvability, Goals, Rumination, and Conflict Strategy Usage: A Preliminary Longitudinal Study
ByJennifer L. Bevan, Megan B. Cummings, Makenna L. Engert, Lisa Sparks
Pages 16

In 1985, Trapp and Hoff (1985) embarked on a study that explored argumentation in relationships. Their interviews with 12 relational pairs, including family members, friends, and romantic partners, revealed an unexpected pattern: many reported that their arguments consisted of serial episodes that reoccurred on a regular basis throughout the course of their relationships, which Trapp and Hoff labeled as serial arguments. These serial arguments, inherently defined by their ongoing nature, did not reflect the dominant view at that time of interpersonal conflict occurring in only a single, autonomous episode. Until Johnson and Roloff (1998) took up the scholarly cause, little research

attention was paid to serial arguments. They formally defined serial arguments as a set of argument episodes about the same topic that occur over time and without resolution. Now, serial argumentation is an active, diverse research area that has exponentially grown and significantly contributed to our understanding of the cognitions, behaviors, and individual and relational correlates and outcomes of engaging in ongoing conflict. For example, serial arguments occur in romantic (Bevan et al, 2007; Johnson & Roloff, 2000a), family (Bevan, 2010; Gaze et al, 2015), and intercultural (Hample & Cionea, 2012) relationships, in organizational (Hample & Allen, 2013) and educational (Hample & Krueger, 2011) settings, and about a variety of topics (Bevan et al, 2014b; Janan Johnson et al, 2011). In this chapter, we overview this body of research by focusing on the two most commonly studied serial argument variables – perceived resolvability and communication behaviors – and also present original longitudinal data that explores how serial argument thoughts and behaviors are linked over time.