The Effect of Culture On the Use of Silence In Marital Conflict

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Charles Tardy

Advisor Department

Communication Studies


The study investigated the influence of culture on five uses of silence in marital conflict: avoidance of conflict, control of conflict, protection of self-image, protection of other's self-image, and maintenance of harmony. Data for this study were provided by 146 subjects who have ever been married from Taiwan and the United States. Self-construals were measured by using the scale developed by Gudykunst, Matsumoto, Ting-Toomey, Nishida, Kim and Heyman (1996). A self-report scale on the use of silence in specific episodes of marital conflict was developed and used in this study. Self-construal only predicted the use of silence to protect self-image. The higher individuals' interdependent self-construal, the more likely they used silence to protect their spouses' self-image, and less likely to use silence to protect their own self-image in marital conflict. However, the effect of culture proved significant on the use of silence in marital conflict, as various other cultural factors accounted for the use of silence in marital conflict. Americans used silence to control conflict and to protect their own self-image in marital conflict. In addition, females more often used silence to avoid conflict and protect their spouses' self-image than males. The longer a couple had been married, the less they used silence to avoid marital conflict. These findings suggested implications for future research.