Children-in-laws’ message processing: Associations among uncertainty, perceived topic avoidance, goal inferences, and martial satisfaction
Uncertainty is germane to the in-law experience. Although associations between in-law’s doubts and message production are well documented, less is known about how in-law’s uncertainty corresponds with their message processing and how these evaluations associate with relational outcomes. Weaving theorizing on uncertainty and goal detection, the present study examined associations between children-in-law’s uncertainty, message processing, and marital satisfaction. Self-report, survey data from children-in-law (n = 199) revealed that their uncertainty corresponds with biased appraisals of their parents-in-law’s communication, specifically perceived topic avoidance and the goals undergirding their avoidant communication (i.e., goal inferences). Additionally, perceived topic avoidance rather than uncertainty shared a stronger association with goal inferences. Finally, goal inferences were directly and indirectly associated with children-in-law’s marital satisfaction. Results are interpreted in light of their theoretical and practical contributions.