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Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences


Candid; Expressive; Forthright; Straightforward


Assertiveness involves appropriately expressing ideas, feelings, and boundaries while respecting other’s rights, maintaining positive affect in the receiver, and considering potential consequences of the expression. It includes both positive and negative expressions and seeks to achieve personal and/or instrumental goals.

Foundations of Assertiveness

Popular perceptions and actual assertiveness differ in kind and in degree (Ames 2009). Even though psychology has consistently maintained that assertiveness respects mutualrights and fosters positive affect, everyday perceptions of assertiveness tend to include even aggressive and relationship damaging expressions. Where assertiveness creates positive affect in the receiver, aggression is hostile, shows little respect for the other, and fails to consider potential consequences of the action. Where assertive personalities have high affection, inclusion, and pleasure...

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Selected Publications

  • Pfafman, T. (2010). Activating the spirit of work: Business advice books and the use of pastoral power to manage employees. Iowa Journal of Communication, 42, 151–174.

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  • Pfafman, T., & Bochantin, J. (2012). Negotiating power paradoxes: Contradictions in women’s constructions of organizational power. Communication Studies, 63, 5.

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  • Pfafman, T. M., & McEwan, B. (2014). Polite women at work: Negotiating professional identity through strategic assertiveness. Women’s Studies in Communication, 37(2), 202–219.

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  • Pfafman, T. M., Carpenter, C. J., & Tang, Y. (2015). The politics of racism: Constructions of African immigrants in China on ChinaSMACK. Communication, Culture & Critique.

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Correspondence to Tessa Pfafman .

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Pfafman, T. (2020). Assertiveness. In: Zeigler-Hill, V., Shackelford, T.K. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham.

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