Document Type: Viewpoint


University of California


In this paper, we discuss the ways that communication accommodation theory (CAT) can be a useful framework for understanding and diagnosing interactional issues in interpersonal and intergroup conflict situations. We argue that the theory’s construct of attuning strategies provides a multidimensional view of mutual adjustment, leading to insights relevant to successful versus unsuccessful conflict management. We then connect this framework to work on improvisation and logics of exchange. Finally, we discuss how contextual variables suggested by CAT may impact the nature of communication in a conflict situation and, thus, the course that a conflict interaction may take.