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Complaining Behavior in Social Interaction

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Abstract

Complaining is a pervasive and important form of social communication but one whose social communicative functions have yet to be subject to empirical investigation. The present study was the first to examine the role of complaining in everyday social interactions. College students kept diaries of the complaints they made to other people for 3 consecutive days, twice during the semester. Students recorded the complaint, the reason for expressing it, and the response it elicited. Over 75% of all complaints registered were non instrumental in nature, in that they were not directed at changing an existing state of affairs but, rather, were expressed for reasons such as to vent frustration or to solicit sympathy. The most frequent complaints involved specific behaviors of another person. The most frequent response to a complaint was to agree with the complainer's statement. The importance of complaining as a form of social communication is discussed, and a number of hypotheses are generated for future research.
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Personality and Social Psychology
http://psp.sagepub.com/content/18/3/286
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DOI: 10.1177/0146167292183004
1992 18: 286Pers Soc Psychol Bull
Mark D. Alicke, James C. Braun, Jeffrey E. Glor, M. L. Klotz, Jon Magee, Heather Sederhoim and Robin Siegel
Complaining Behavior in Social Interaction
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... In other words, individuals humblebrag to maintain a delicate balance between being liked and achieving a positive promotion of self (Sezer, Gino, and Norton 2018;Chen, Liu, and Mattila 2020). Fundamentally, a complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction (Kowalski 1996;Alicke et al. 1992). Complaints serve a range of purposes, including making small talk or venting frustrations, warning others about a negative experience with a particular object, encouraging someone to right a wrong, or soliciting sympathy or moral support (Nyer, 1999;Alicke et al. 1992;Kowalski 1996). ...
... Fundamentally, a complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction (Kowalski 1996;Alicke et al. 1992). Complaints serve a range of purposes, including making small talk or venting frustrations, warning others about a negative experience with a particular object, encouraging someone to right a wrong, or soliciting sympathy or moral support (Nyer, 1999;Alicke et al. 1992;Kowalski 1996). In addition, individuals often complain to signal high standards in order to communicate a desirable image (Alicke et al. 1992;Kowalski 1996). ...
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