Disclaiming: A Test Of Two Competing Views

Robert A Bell, Christopher J. Zahn, Robert Hopper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Sociologists Hewitt and Stokes (1975) argue that disclaiming is a positive interactional tactic used to define forthcoming problematic actions as irrelevant to one's established identity. Several researchers interested in speech styles argue that disclaiming negatively impacts on one's identity by creating an image of powerlessness. The findings of an experiment reported here suggest that disclaimers have no effect, positive or negative, on others’ credibility attributions. This finding is inconsistent with past speech styles research. A second study supported a “hammer effect” reinterpretation of these studies. It was only when subjects were presented with an unrealistic number of disclaimers that adverse effects for disclaiming were found.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-36
Number of pages9
JournalCommunication Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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