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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Communication Research Reports on 11/9/2017, available online:


Is the reluctance to share bad news (i.e., the MUM effect) motivated more by a public display or private concern, and does it benefit mainly the messenger or the recipient? An experiment (N = 309) that crossed good/bad news with three communication channels (face to face, text messaging, email) revealed that messenger reluctance was greatest under conditions of bad news and did not vary based on channel through which the recipient contacted the messenger. In contrast with earlier work, this MUM effect was more consistent with a private fear of distressing the recipient. Theoretical implications and limitations are discussed.