Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

It does not have to be liking: An exploration of respect and its role in (transforming) conflict

Amelie Werther, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Conflict parties demand respect from their opponents and suggest it benefits conflict transformation. This raises questions about the role of respect in conflict and why conflict parties care more about respect than about positive evaluations such as liking. I began by exploring the concept and a general definition: Respect has positive valence, involves positive value judgments, bestows influence, and has a moral quality. The definition maps onto Janoff-Bulman and Werther’s distinction between basic, generally-assumed, morality-based categorical respect, which grants targets basic rights, and exclusive, mainly competence-based contingent respect, which imparts further influence including decision power. In Study 1 a content analysis of respect and disrespect episodes described by 75 undergraduate students provided support for the definition and the distinction. Next, respect was theoretically and empirically distinguished from liking. In Study 2, 45 undergraduates were asked about individuals they respected, liked, respected but did not like, and liked but did not respect (within-subject design). As predicted, Ps judged respected targets as more competent and moral, but liked targets as somewhat warmer. To test respect benefits in conflict both for targets and “respecters,” Study 3 led 82 female students to believe they would have a dialogue about a moral topic (gay marriage), for which they had indicated firm convictions in a prescreening. Ps first received a description of their ostensible dialogue partner’s views, which were manipulated to oppose Ps’ opinions respectfully, oppose them disrespectfully, oppose them without mentioning respect, or match them. Although strongest effects were found for matching (vs. opposing) views, respect (vs. disrespect) was also beneficial, especially when controlling for Ps’ perceptions of similarity with the “respecters.” Benefits included more positive emotions; improved judgments of the “respecter” regarding morality, competence, warmth, and openness in dialogue; and increased reciprocated respect. Regression analyses additionally showed that perceived respect increased a partner-considerate conflict style and tended to increase the time Ps offered for the dialogue. Comparisons to the respect-neutral condition showed that the disrespect (vs. respect) condition primarily drove the effects. Controlling for liking left (dis)respect effects largely unaffected, suggesting both concepts are indeed distinct.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Peace Studies

Recommended Citation

Werther, Amelie, "It does not have to be liking: An exploration of respect and its role in (transforming) conflict" (2010). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3427576.