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Negotiated Morality Theory

  • By: Vincent R. Waldron
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Negotiated morality theory (NMT) (also known as the theory of negotiated morality) was proposed in 2008 by communication scholars Vincent Waldron and Douglas Kelley. These researchers studied conversations that take place when relationships are disrupted by perceived moral transgressions, serious mistakes, or traumatic events. The researchers noticed that people often interpreted these situations by invoking moral terms: right and wrong, good and evil, justice and mercy. Originally the theory focused on forgiving and unforgiving responses to harmful acts in romantic relationships. More recently its scope has been expanded to consider other kinds of transgressions, such as the mistakes made by doctors and abusive communication practices in health care organizations.

NMT is connected to health in several ways. First, it focuses attention on an important dimension of ...

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