Participants rated complaints delivered by individuals with differing gender and racial/ethnic traits in terms of severity/seriousness, interest, and fairness. Gender of complainer had no effect on any perceptions, but race/ethnicity of complainer produced significant effects in all three areas. Unexpectedly, complaints were rated more severe/serious, interesting, and fair when delivered by minorities compared to white individuals. Post hoc findings revealed that female respondents rated complaints higher in severity, interest, and fairness than males.
There has been little research into complaining as an interpersonal speech act. What research has been conducted has focused on consumer or patient complaint behavior, the boss-employee or spousal relationships. Participants kept a complaint journal over 4 days, recording complaints heard and made by the participant and metadata concerning the complaint. Findings indicated many areas for further study, including statistically significant relationships between: relative age, gender, fixability, severity, solicitation, interest, self-perception, power, and relationship type.