The Meaning of Serial Arguments…


Part of the serial argument example, not necessarily related to the paper…

A Higher Meaning of Serial Arguments

Jason M. Roebuck

Northwest Christian University


The established models and schemes have been used to help define the basic structure of an argument.  Extensive analysis has been done to shed some light on the reason serial arguments happen and what determines their chance of continuing.  The studies used for this paper are the hypothesized model which considered rumination, conflict intensity and perceived resolvability, as well as the conflict linkage model and the Conversation Argument Coding System (CACS).  The research that I used mostly studied romantic partners, so my review will consider that relationship exclusively.  It is my intention to show that the will of God, as well as his mercy and love, that provides a similar explanation to much of the research that has been done on serial arguments.

A Higher Meaning of Serial Arguments

It is funny how the first article I read uses plenty of examples to illustrate the importance of context.  In the end, the article mentions that consideration of context is a limitation to the results of the study. (Hample, Richards and Na, 2012, p. 462)  The study of serial arguments is important to understand the nature of how arguments evolve over time.  It is the focus of my paper to show that the work of many researchers agrees with the work that was begun by God in at least two serious people over 17 years ago.

In order to start my argument, here is an example that will illustrate the power of serial arguments:

A husband tries to make a comment to his wife about how blatant references to sexual content on clothing or the revealing nature of some outfits, can only lead to lust in people’s minds.  To which, the wife will respond that she does not think that way, therefore it doesn’t matter what clothes she or other women wear, especially if they think the outfit is cute.  The response is she denies the truth and the argument escalates into a debate over whether or not Christians are responsible for the salvation of others.

Hample et al. (2012) suggested that the degree to which the argument will continue is based on the imagined interactions that might be taking place between arguments.  Also, the suggestion is made that imagined interactions between episodes of the argument are a determining factor for how the conflict will proceed.  The conflict linkage model discusses at length the research that shows how the different variables to the argument effect the ability to not only continue the argument, but produce a positive outcome.  (Hample et al., 2012, p. 475)  It is clear that the results show that this model creates a way to analyze the imagined interactions, as well as the actual episodes of arguments.  The results allow you to see the reasons for an argument’s continued nature.  The limitations of the conflict linkage model are that the sample size is limited in this study and the nature and content of the argument was not factored in to the study.  Obviously, the sample size of my one argument would be too small to add any more truth to the study.  However, the nature of the argument and/or content give me reason to believe that this argument will continue, and nothing that I read in this study contradicts that idea.

Next, let’s consider the concept of rumination, or ‘‘a class of conscious thoughts that revolve around a common instrumental theme and that recur in the absence of immediate environmental demands requiring thought … ’’. (Carr, Shrodt and Ledbetter, 2012, p. 483)  This concept relates to the idea of imagined interactions directly.  At the beginning of the article, it is proposed that the conflict intensity is the one variable of the three considered; rumination, conflict intensity and perceived resolvability, which would have the greatest impact on whether the argument will continue.  However, throughout the analysis of the three factors that are presented in this article, it shows that the perceived resolvability is a much more important factor in determining the probability of the argument continuing.  Since this model uses the hypothesized structural model, it starts out with some ideas that could be proven false.  The results of the study show that the fourth hypothesis, which says that conflict intensity is negatively associated with the likelihood of continuing the serial argument, is mostly proven wrong.  (Carr et al., 2012, p. 485) This study draws some great conclusions about the way these three factors can determine the probability of and motivation to continue the argument.  Finally, it states that it is limited by the nature of this study, which took responses from only one of the participants in the argument.

The Conversation Argument Coding Scheme is not used to specifically study the impact of variables in serial arguments.  (Johnson and Averbeck, 2010, p)  However, the same rationale that makes the conclusion about the noteworthiness of interpersonal partner communication over a specific topic, can be made about the communication over a specific topic during a series of arguments.  It was unfortunate that this study did not consider the impact of computer-mediated communication in its analysis of the argument.  However, the article states that it would be interesting to see if computer-mediated communication would have an effect on the way two people enact an argument.  Finally, the idea of chronemics creates another variable which was not studied, although it is similar to the serial argument.  It would be interesting to see the results related to the impact of patiently waiting to get to a conclusion.


Reading the articles about serial arguments was exciting because there are plenty of serial arguments in a marriage.  The serial argument example that is mentioned at the beginning of my paper is one that comes up often between me and my wife.  Most likely, the perceived resolvability from an outside observer is not very high, but nothing is impossible with God.  If two people in a relationship are led by the Holy Spirit to work together, they will allow God to bring them to a more perfect union.  After researching the concept of serial arguments, it seems to me that considering ideas like rumination, conflict intensity, perceived resolvability, and imagined interaction, might just be the key to more integrative arguments.  This knowledge of the anatomy of an argument will be a link to a better connection to the perfect will of God for our marriage.   Conflict in the future will be an example to our four children of what a marriage that has God at the center looks like. The two serious people that began to form a family over 17 years ago, have God to thank for the grace to live together in harmony.  It is through the mercy of God, as well as his love that has formed our consciences for dealing with conflict in the past.  It would be interesting to study, if couples that study these variables and their effects on serial arguments, actually do argue better than those that have never studied them.  There is no doubt that God can supply the patience married couples need to love each other through any conflict.


Carr, K., Schrodt, P., & Ledbetter, A. M. (2012). Rumination,            Conflict Intensity, and Perceived Resolvability as Predictors        of Motivation and Likelihood of Continuing Serial Arguments.        Western Journal of Communication, 76(5), 480-502.

Hample, D., Richards, A. S., & Na, L. (2012). A Test of the               Conflict Linkage Model in the Context of Serial Arguments.          Western Journal of Communication, 76(5), 459-479.

Johnson, A. J., & Averbeck, J. M. (2010). Using the                          Conversation Argument Coding Scheme to Examine                     Interpersonal Conflict: Insights and Challenges.                            Communication Methods & Measures, 4(1/2), 114-132.

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