Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Applied Communication Research 46:4 (2018), pp. 469–490.

doi: 10.1080/00909882 .2018.1500025


Copyright © 2018 National Communication Association. Published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group. Used by permission.


Utilizing uncertainty management theory (UMT) and a multiple goals theory of personal relationships (MGPR) the present study examined how adult children of divorce (ACOD) manage relational uncertainty following parental divorce. In-depth, semistructured interviews with 25 adult children who had experienced parental divorce when they were 18 years of age or older revealed two broad types of information acquisition strategies: deliberate (i.e., information-seeking and information-avoiding) and incidental (i.e., incidental information acquisition). Deliberate information acquisition strategies were animated by several goals, including reducing and maintaining uncertainty, avoiding feeling caught, and protection. Alongside goals, various constraints (e.g., target efficacy, coping efficacy) played a role in ACOD’s relational uncertainty management. We discuss these results in relation to their theoretical and practical applications.