Using Face Negotiation Theory (FNT) and its associated assumptions to guide the study, the current project addressed the lack of African centered communication research by conducting a mixed-method study in Uganda and Ethiopia regarding how culture and family socialization patterns impact romantic partners in conflict. Specifically, this study examined how culture and family communication patterns influence face concerns, conflict style choices, relationship satisfaction, and forgiveness tendencies in romantic relationships. The role of religion and communalism in African culture was also a primary focus of the study, with qualitative results yielding several interesting and new ideas about the important role of these constructs in Uganda and Ethiopia. Quantitative data was collected via surveys in Uganda and Ethiopia to test nine hypotheses and answer two research questions. Results indicated the following: (a) the more individuals in Uganda and Ethiopia report a conformity-oriented family socialization pattern, the more they report using an avoiding and dominating conflict style when in conflict with their romantic partners, (b) the more individuals report an other-oriented face concern, the more they report using an avoiding and collaborating conflict style when in conflict, (c) the more individuals in report a self-oriented face concern, the more they report using a dominating conflict style when in conflict, (d) the more individuals in report using a conversation-oriented family socialization pattern, the more they report using a collaborating conflict style when in conflict, and (e) individuals in from a conversation-oriented family report being more satisfied in their romantic relationships than individuals from a conformity- oriented family. Qualitative data was used to answer an additional four research questions that were aimed at providing a clearer understanding of the relationship among family socialization patterns, face concerns, conflict styles, relationship satisfaction, and forgiveness among individuals in Uganda and Ethiopia. In addition, the qualitative data was used to examine the role of communalism and religion in romantic conflict in Uganda and Ethiopia. The results indicated that individuals from Uganda and Ethiopia prefer an (1) indirect and (2) confrontation/explicit conflict style when in conflict with their romantic partner; individuals view (1) family, (2) community/tribal, (3) third parties, and (4) patriarchy as their primary sources for their conflict behavior; religion is viewed as a (1) teacher/guide, (2) comfort/reassurance, and (3) conflict resolution/forgiveness; while participants view the relationship between conflict styles and relational outcomes as being related to (1) third party help, (2) apologizing and forgiving, and (3) avoiding. Overall, this study was important because it extended FNT in a noteworthy direction by including the role of family communication patterns, communalism, and relational outcomes in the face negotiation and conflict process. Additionally, this project expanded the communication literature to include an African based perspective.
Romantic Conflict, Face Negotiation Theory, Uganda, Ethiopia, Family Socialization Patterns, Communalism
Level of Degree
Department of Communication and Journalism
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Courtney, Fletcher. "NEGOTIATING FACE AND CONFLICT IN ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS: A CROSS-CULTURAL COMPARISON OF UGANDA AND ETHIOPIA." (2009). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/cj_etds/7