Social face concerns have been theorized as greatly affecting management of conflict and as likely to lead to conflict avoidance, especially among collectivist people. However, this study proposed that confirmation of personal face, even with strong negative evaluations of position, can facilitate the effective use of open disagreement to make decisions. Experimental findings obtained in China indicated that confirmation of personal face, compared with affronts, developed a cooperative context for conflict management; specifically, it promoted uncertainty about one's original position, exploration and understanding of the opposing view, efforts to integrate positions, and confidence in the relationship. Affronts to position had very modest effects on the dynamics and outcomes of conflict. Results were interpreted as suggesting that group members can manage their conflicts constructively when they communicate a direct confirmation of face.
Copyright © 2000 American Psychological Association
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