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Cooling Out the Mark in Companion Animal Adoption

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This research examines conflict resolution in the companion animal adoption process. Such adoptions typically occur in public settings where volunteers (1) advise potential adopters about the physical, emotional, and environmental needs of companion animals; (2) evaluate adopters and the environment the companion animal will inhabit; and (3) assess the quality and quantity of interaction the adopted cat or dog will receive in the home. The process often involves adjusting adopters’ perceptions and expectations and occasionally rejecting applicants. Our analysis revealed the use of rhetorical devices by adoption workers to soften the blow of rejection. When rejected applicants refuse to accept adoption worker “accounts” for their decisions, the interactions often become acrimonious. In such cases, adoption workers typically resort to “cooling-out strategies” to restore the face of the rejected applicant, protect the reputation of adoption workers and the group, and control the appearance of discord to facilitate successful adoptions.

Affiliations: 1: Texas Christian; 2: University of Texas at Arlington


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