Hesitation to Share Bad News: By-Product of Verbal Message Planning or Functional Communication Behavior?
Research on bad news delivery reveals a reliable temporal delay in the onset of the bad news message from the sender to the receiver. Two experiments utilized a false feedback test design to determine whether the delay is better accounted for by negative verbal message planning, politeness, or both. Both studies (Ns = 135 and 138) featured participant-senders who delivered either scripted or unscripted good, neutral, or bad news to a stranger. News valence, delay before response, and reluctance were measured. Both experiments supported the functional politeness explanation. Study 2 also supported the negative verbal message-planning explanation. Implications and limitations are discussed.
Published in: Communication Research, Volume 42, Issue 2, March 1, 2015, pages 213-236. Copyright © 2015 Sage Publications Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA.