Uni-HD Logo

Argumentationsintegrität in Alltagskommunikation:
Rezeption - Wirkung - Produktion

Psychologisches Institut - Universität Heidelberg

Hauptstraße 47-51, D-69117 Heidelberg
Tel: +49-6221/54-7356, Fax: +49-6221/54-7273
email: Ursula.Christmann@psychologie.uni-heidelberg.de


Psychologie, Sprachpsychologie in Vernetzung mit Denk-, Sozialpsychologie und Pragmalinguistik
Project Directors : Prof. Dr. Norbert Groeben 
e-Mail: N.Groeben@rrz.uni-koeln.de
University of Cologne  
Chair of Psychology II 
50931 Köln 

Dr. Ursula Christmann
e-Mail: Ursula.Christmann@psychologie.uni-heidelberg.de

Project Staff : Jürgen Flender, M.A., Dipl.Psych. 
e-Mail: Juergen.Flender@psychologie.uni-heidelberg.de

Christoph Mischo, Dipl.Psych. 
e-Mail: Christoph.Mischo@psychologie.uni-heidelberg.de

Project Overview

(0) Overview

The construct of argumentational integrity describes criteria for the ethical evaluation of contributions to argumentation. These criteria have been explicated in the form of conditions, characteristics, and standards of (un)fiar argumentation (summarizing what fair speakers ought to avoid when making contributions to an argumentative discussion). Keeping to these conditions is defined as fair argumentation, violating them consciously as unfair argumentation. The general goal of our project is to test these criteria in everyday communication and to establish process models of reception, production and effects of argumentational (un)fairness.

Our project is focused on the following major topics:

(1) Explicating and internally structuring the construct of argumentational integrity through consulting contemporary argumentation theory and taking into account the problems related to abuse of classical rhetoric. We derived 11 standards of unfair argumentation, indicating which speech acts in argumentations should be omitted from a perspective of integrity.

(2) Empirical, and experimental validation of the construct. In several studies, we showed that violations of standards of integrity are conspicious in communication, are identified reactively and evaluated negatively. Moreover, we studied the influence of several motivational variables of personality on the reception of argumentative unfairness, finding the particular relevance of a bias for internal attributions.

(3) Pragmalinguistic description and analysis of argumentational unfairness. We conducted extensive sample analyses of authentic dialogues of mothers arguing with their adolscent daughters, allowing the identification of typical linguistic manifestations of violations of integrity, and of factors covarying with argumentational unfairness.

(4) Subjective theories about argumentational integrity. We studied subjective theories on argumentational integrity of laymen, legal practitioners and local politicians. The study showed which aspects of the construct are shared by the subjects (non-experimental validation) and how the subjective theoretical beliefs on (un-)fair argumentation influence speech acts in everyday situations (driving actions).

(5) Diagnosing and reacting to unfair argumentational contributions. We conceptualized the diagnosis of argumentational unfairness as a multistage process of moral judgments. The severity of an argumentative rule violation (valence) and the degree of subjective awareness (intentional, by negligence, unknowingly) during the rule violation were empirically identified as the basic components of the judgment of integrity. A factor analysis of the components of the judgment process revealed 10 process-relevant options to react to unfair contributions in argumentation on a continuum between cooperation and terminating cooperation.

(6) Mitigating and aggravating factors of (un-)fairness judgments. The two basic components can be seen as necessary but not sufficient components of the (un-)fairness evaluation. Thus, we developed and empirically tested a model based on the German criminal law, incorporating objective and subjective facts, illicitness, and blameworthiness, as well as the severity of sanctions.Building on this model, three empirical studies identified situational context factors capable of changing the (un-)fairness evaluation.

(7) Relation between linguistic aesthetics and argumentative (un-)fairness. Concerns have been voiced that the construct of argumentational integrity could lead to over-emphasizing moral dimensions at the expense of linguistic aesthetics. In contrast, we assume that argumentational integrity and linguistic aesthetics are not negatively related, but that argumentations can only unfold optimally when they are both fair and linguistically aesthetic. This assumption was supported in an empirical study testing the persuasive effectiveness of different combinations of (un-)fairness and linguistic aesthetics. The results indicate that the integrity of arguments should be seen as a necessary condition for the persuasive effectiveness of aesthetic elements.

(8) Developing and validating a scale to measure passive rhetoric competence in argumentation (SPARK) and a computer-based short version (WinSPARK). To evaluate the planned training program (see section 10) and to advance further basic research, we developed a scale to measure passive rhetorical competence in argumetions (SPARK). Passive rhetoric competence in argumentation is the ability to identify argumentational, rhetorical, theoretical and interactive attributes in speech. To measure these aspects of competence, SPARK contains constructed argumentational episodes with corresponding tasks. SPARK has been developed with a focus on validity, and was tested in a validation study (N=116) according to the criteria of classic test theory. SPARK is provided in two versions parallel in content, and can be used in whole and in part.

To economically optimize the procedure and analysis, as well as the internal and external validity, we designed a computer-based short version (WinSPARK) with ToolBook. WinSPARK differs from SPARK especially due to the limitation to conspicious argumentational features, limiting scrolling and the time to identify conspicious features, and alsodue to the automated analysis of relevant data, and its filing in a corresponding data base. An equivalence study (N=63) supports the assumption of psychometric equivalence of WinSPARK.

(9) Complete model on the reception of argumentative (un-)fairness. Previous findings indicating the influence of relevant context variables on integrity judgments were integrated in an additional empirical study. The influence of context information (intensity of the rule violation, competence, self-revision, further intentions of the person arguing unfairly) which empirically had proven relevant in the process of diagnosing (un)fairness and the two basic components (severity of the subjective facts, severity of the objective rule violation) was studied, confirming the conceptualization of the integrity judgment as a multistage process of diagnosis.

(10) Application: Training on sensitizing for and reactions to unfair contributions in argumentation. The results of our basic research should be applied to improve individual competences in diagnosing and reacting to unfair contributions in argumentation. We developed a modular training program sensitizing participants for argumentative unfairness, and offering a broad range of options for reacting to violations of integrity. Following an introduction phase (warming up, demonstrating the problem, explicating expectancies and selecting modules), the process contains six training dimensions and a final step (evaluation and feedback). The six training dimensions are available in a short and in a long, as well as an extension version, differing in elaborateness. The didactic and methodological design incorporates robust training approaches but also the principles of constructivist learing theories. Ther training program was tested with members of middle and senior management.

The general usefulness of applying the construct of argumentational integrity in commercial and managerial contexts (management, hospitals) has been demonstrated.

Zurück zum Institut  Up: zur übergeordneten Seite Webmaster: 11.07.2014