Understanding Human Communication Chapter 7 Understanding Interpersonal Relationships Com 110 Professor Liz Schroeder
Understanding Interpersonal RelationshipsOverview Why we form interpersonal relationships Characteristics of interpersonal relationships Communication over the relational lifespan Intimacy in interpersonal relationships Self-disclosure in interpersonal relationships
Why We Form RelationshipsInfluences on our choice of relational partners Appearance – we are attracted to people who we judge to be more physically attractive Studies have shown that physical attractiveness is rated as more important in the earlier stages People who are ordinary-looking who have good personalities are rated as more attractive Similarity – we are more attracted to people who are similar to us If you have the same interests in career goals, same friends, and similar beliefs, you are more able to deal with the trivial stuff that comes up If you have similar abilities when it comes to communicating, even if that means that you both have a difficult time talking about emotions or communicating at all, you are more apt to like each other
Why We Form RelationshipsInfluences on our choice of relational partners continued… Complementarity – even though birds of a feather flock together, the opposite is also true If you have certain skills or characteristics that your partner is lacking, and they have skills and characteristics that you are lacking, attraction and relational satisfaction are positive Keeps the relationship interesting if you can bring “new” stuff to the relationship Reciprocal Attraction – we typically like people who like us This is the self-fulfilling prophecy theory of attraction The person likes me and finds me attractive; my self-esteem is bolstered by this person’s feelings, I want to spend more time with that person.
Why We Form RelationshipsInfluences on our choice of relational partners continued… Competence – we like to be with people who are at our level of competence, for the most part… We like to be with those who have talents and skills that are similar to ours, and we like them to have at least a few noticeable flaws However, if you have especially high or low self-esteem, you are more likely to find “perfect” people more attractive. The best way to be liked is to be good at what you do, but also admit your flaws. Disclosure – appropriate self-disclosure can help build liking This becomes more important over the course of the relationship Not all disclosure leads to liking – has to be appropriate for the setting and the stage of the relationship • More on this later (Johari Window)
Why We Form RelationshipsInfluences on our choice of relational partners continued… Proximity – if we are near people, we are more likely to develop relationships We can become friends with close neighbors rather than those who are down the road People in close proximity may be more similar to us Internet provides a “place” for virtual proximity Familiarity, on the other hand, can breed contempt (Dog Whisperer)
Why We Stay in RelationshipsInfluences on our choice of relational partners continued… Rewards – Costs = Outcome Aka, The Social Exchange Theory Develop relationships where you get the biggest gain or reward with the least costs Rewards are anything you want, enjoy and you’d be willing to incur costs to obtain Costs are things you normally try to avoid, consider unpleasant or difficult What are some examples of rewards and costs in relationships? When looking at the dark side of relationships, the social exchange theory can be used to explain why people stay in bad relationships. How would this work?
Why We Stay in RelationshipsEquity Theory (Not in Text) In the US, relationships are developed and maintained when your ratio to costs and rewards is approximately equal to your partner’s. Both partners should receive rewards proportional to their costs If one partner works harder for the relationship than the other, then that person receives greater rewards than the other In collectivist cultures: Principle of equality: each person gets equal rewards, regardless of individual contribution Principle of need: each person gets rewards based on need
Interpersonal RelationshipsWhich Theory? The Big Bang Theory - Pennys Christmas gift to Sheldon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlhHTdDqoBc Which theory is in action here? Equity Theory
Characteristics of Interpersonal RelationshipsWhat makes communication interpersonal? All communication between two people (dyadic) is what is called contextually interpersonal. Examples? The impersonal nature of some dyadic exchanges has led communication scholars to say that it is the quality of the relationship and the dyadic exchange that make it interpersonal. An interpersonal relationship exists between two people when they treat each other as unique, regardless of the situation in which interaction takes place or the number of people who are present. Qualitatively interpersonal communication is relatively scarce. Why? Takes time and energy. We couldn’t be “close” with everyone.
Characteristics of Interpersonal RelationshipsInterpersonal Communication in Mediated Relationships Can mediated interactions be interpersonal? Basically, there are a couple of rules of thought: 1. Internet/CMC makes our interactions less personal, less qualitatively interpersonal. IE. Collecting “friends” on Facebook. 2. CMC enhances the quantity and the quality of interpersonal communication. • Women seem to use CMC more and have more satisfaction in terms of staying in touch with friends and family. • 72% of internet users had communicated with a relative or family member in the past day as compared to 61% of nonusers.
Characteristics of Interpersonal RelationshipsContent and Relational Messages Content messages: Focus on the subject being discussed Relational messages: Make statements about how the parties feel toward one another: • Affinity – Do you like me? • Respect – Do you admire me? • Immediacy – Are you interested and/or attracted to me? • Control – Do I have the control here or do you? Are we equals? Take out the trash example…
Characteristics of Interpersonal RelationshipsActivity: Content and Relational Messages Content message: “Can you help me for a minute?” Relational messages: Superiority Helplessness Aloofness Sexual desire Friendliness Irritation The Point? Most relational messages are conveyed via nonverbal messages. Nonverbal messages are ambiguous, so before jumping to a conclusion about the “real” meaning of a message, do a perception check.
Characteristics of Interpersonal RelationshipsMetacommunication Metacommunication is the term used to describe messages about other messages When we talk about our relationship with each other, we are metacommunicating. • “It sounds like you are angry at me.” • “We need to talk.” • “I really appreciate it when you take out the trash.” Do you remember John Gottman’s research on interpersonal relationships that we watched in The Human Face? • Successful marriages and long-term relationships “do” metacommunication. • They deal with relationship issues as if they were “a soccer ball being kicked back and forth”rather than kicking the relationship partner when he or she is down… Let’s review a little information about John Gottman and then take a listen to some of his findings…
Interpersonal RelationshipsJohn Gottman Studies the Masters and the Disasters John Gottman is one of the top 10 most influential therapists over the last 30 years. His work in looking at why couples stay together is groundbreaking. Basically, he stuck couples in a video lab and recorded them having arguments. He looked at their nonverbal and verbal messages and their argument strategies. What he found was pretty interesting: It’s not how MUCH you argue, but HOW you argue that predicts a couple’s chances for staying together. Let’s take a listen… from minute 2…
Interpersonal Conflict ManagementJohn Gottman’s Study of HOW We Argue
Interpersonal RelationshipsJohn Gottman’s Study Results Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Criticism – this is when you rip someone down, are critical of them as a person, and bring up past grievances by gunnysacking Defensiveness – perhaps you know that the criticism is valid, but you don’t want to admit it. You may say it’s not your fault or you may want to tell the other person how it is his or her fault. Stonewalling – withdrawing from the conversation, shutting down – often do this to try to calm down, but it is interpreted as a self- removal from the discussion. Contempt – sarcasm or mockery, calling names, degrading the other
Interpersonal Conflict ManagementJohn Gottman’s Study of HOW We Argue Out of the 4 horsemen, Contempt is the number 1 indicator of marital disaster and divorce. It actually is an indicator of physical health – if you are the recipient of contempt, your health, statistically, is in jeopardy! Even people who didn’t engage the four horsemen got divorced. Why? They had nothing at all! No emotional display, no teasing, no fun, no play, no fighting. They didn’t support the relationship in any way. If you remember nothing else about his research, remember this: The difference between divorce and a positive long-term relationship is very simple – satisfied couples maintain a five-to-one ratio of positive to negative interactions in their relationship.
Communication over the Relational Life SpanTrying to explain how relationships work The Big Bang Theory - The Friendship Algorithm http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0xgjUhEG3U&feature=related Do you use a friendship algorithm in your relationships with others?
Communication over the Relational Life SpanMark Knapp’s Ten Stage Relationship Model This is a developmental model used to look at intimate and close friendship relationships (model on page 205). “Rules” for moving through the stages in Mark Knapp’s Relationship Model: You can exit at any stage Some exit at the same stage every time You can go backwards! There is no defined amount of time people stay within a certain stage. It differs for each relationship You can skip stages
Communication over the Relational Life SpanMark Knapp’s Ten Stage Relationship Model – Coming Together 5 Stages of coming together: 1. Initiating – Brief, small talk to get to know one another and decide whether you want to get to know him/her Your schemata are activated You are managing your identities Your Presenting Self is Shown You use social distance – What is this? • 4 to 12 feet distance This stage is very short, sometimes as short as 10-15 seconds. In this stage, interactants are concerned with making favorable impressions on each other. They may use standard greetings or observe each others appearance or mannerisms. This is often where we use the short, Fresh Prince: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NH4BJ9B1lrw
Communication over the Relational Life SpanMark Knapp’s Ten Stage Relationship Model 5 Stages of coming together: 2. Experimenting– We decide whether we want to pursue the relationship Small talk takes place in order to do 4 things: • Uncover topics and opening for future conversations • Act as an audition for a future relationship • Safe act of revealing who you are (Uncertainty Reduction) • Maintain a sense of community Butterfly Stage Personal Distance • 1-1/2 – 4 ft. In this next stage, individuals ask questions of each other in order to gain information about them and decide if they wish to continue the relationship. Many relationships progress no further than this point.
Communication over the Relational Life SpanMark Knapp’s Ten Stage Relationship Model 5 Stages of coming together: 3. Intensifying– Increase the amount of contact, expressing how they feel about one another Social Penetration Theory – Depth/Breadth (pg. 217 or slides 40-42) Disclosure Increases Start to meet the other’s friends and family Intimacy becomes part of the relationship – Intimate Distance Stage Doesn’t Last Long – one either exits because euphoria is subsiding or they quickly move onto the next stage Self-disclosure becomes more common in the intensifying stage. The relationship becomes less formal, the interactants begin to see each other as individuals, and statements are made about the level of commitment each has to the relationship.
Communication over the Relational Life SpanMark Knapp’s Ten Stage Relationship Model 5 Stages of coming together: 4. Integrating– They become a “couple” in everyone else’s eyes Develop their own language Deeper sense of obligation (we expect more of each other) Both people want to do everything right at this stage, however the perceived self has emerged. Social obligations are made on behalf of both Deeper disclosure The individuals become a pair in the integrating stage. They begin to do things together and, importantly, others come to see them as a pair. A shared relational identity starts to form in this stage.
Communication over the Relational Life SpanMark Knapp’s Ten Stage Relationship Model 5 Stages of coming together: 5. Bonding– Make a public declaration of their relationship either through engagement, marriage or moving in together, resulting in (hopefully) social support for the relationship This is a critical period in a relationship Show that spiritually and officially they are bonded. This form of bonding can be used to describe a business relationship such a business partnership or fraternity initiation During the bonding stage, a formal, sometimes legal, announcement of the relationship is made. Examples include a marriage, "best friend" ritual, or business partnership agreement. Few relationships reach this level.
Communication over the Relational Life SpanMark Knapp’s Ten Stage Relationship Model – Coming Apart 5 Stages of Coming Apart: 6. Differentiating– You are an established couple, but feel the need to establish “me” distinctions. Some “you” language emerges. You might need some time away to establish your individualism. You may “The Honeymoon is Over,” “Welcome to Reality” Realistic stage, but both people must remain committed. In families, when children become adults and need to establish their own identities. In this stage, partners begin to stress the "me" instead of the "we." In other words, the individuals begin to assert their independence. They may develop different hobbies or activities. The relationship may continue to dissolve, or this stage may be a warning sign that the couple needs to address their relationship status.
Communication over the Relational Life SpanMark Knapp’s Ten Stage Relationship Model – Coming Apart 5 Stages of coming apart: 7. Circumscribing– The first in a series of declining stages Debilitative emotions Social Penetration Theory reverses Arguing takes too much effort, so one or both separates themselves from the conflict Sarcasm kicks in Communication between the couple diminishes during this stage. They tend to avoid certain topics of discussion. Outwardly, the couple appears normal. At this stage, attempts can be made to discuss the relationship and return it to a positive state.
Communication over the Relational Life SpanMark Knapp’s Ten Stage Relationship Model – Coming Apart 5 Stages of coming apart: 8. Stagnating– There is no continual growth and the two people become bored and frustrated with one another Selective and Defensive Listening Occurs Doing the same things – going to the same places – or going nowhere. Start to spend time apart to create your own excitement During the stagnating stage, the individuals avoid discussing the relationship because they think they know what the other will say. Others begin to take notice that something is wrong.
Communication over the Relational Life SpanMark Knapp’s Ten Stage Relationship Model – Coming Apart 5 Stages of coming apart: 9. Avoiding– Creating physical distance between each other Attribution takes place – both people attach meaning to the other’s behavior Impersonal communication Insensitive listening Still does not have to end! However, at this point, counseling would most likely be necessary. The pair begins to physically separate themselves during the avoiding stage. The individuals try to reduce the opportunities for discussion.
Communication over the Relational Life SpanMark Knapp’s Ten Stage Relationship Model – Coming Apart 5 Stages of coming apart: 10. Terminating– Ending the relationship It can happen quickly or over a period of time More disclosure – summary dialogues Mixed emotions Can be reached in a back and forth mannerThis is the final stage of the relationship.Termination may come naturally, such as at the endof the semester when roommates move out, orarbitrarily, through divorce. Termination of therelationship can occur positively or negatively.
Interpersonal Relationships Relationship Dialectics Theory (Push Me, Pull You)
Interpersonal RelationshipsRelationship Dialectics Theory (Push Me, Pull You) Relationship Dialectics Theory - dynamic tensions exist in each stage of relationships and are defined by a pair of opposite desires or motivations: Autonomy vs. Connection – Do you want to be connected at the hip or be your own person? How are you defined? As a couple or as an individual that has a relationship with someone? Novelty vs. Predictability – You have a need for adventure and newness vs. you want to know what will happen at every turn and twist in the relationship. Privacy vs. Openness – Do you want to reveal yourself to the other? Or do you want to remain closed? (Graphs on page 211)
Interpersonal RelationshipsRelationship Dialectics Theory (Push Me, Pull You) What do you do with these opposing tensions? You can accept the imbalance as part of dating or relating. You can exit the relationship. You can rebalance your life. Stir things up, take time off, talking about the imbalance and the inherent conflicts and problem solving with your partner.
Intimacy in Interpersonal RelationshipsDimensions of Intimacy What is intimacy? Definition: “Close union, contact, association, or acquaintance” with the following possible KINDS of closeness: Physical – everything from a pat on the back to hugs to intense sexual contact Intellectual sharing – exchange of important ideas Emotion – exchanging important feelings Shared activities – everything from playing basketball together, to gossiping, to teasing and joking around
Intimacy in Interpersonal RelationshipsMale and Female Intimacy Styles History of Research Women are more intimate with their self-disclosures than men Men, if they could just open up about their feelings, would be close The Truth: Men and women in same sex interactions, get to know and trust each other in different ways: • Emotional expression is not the only way to get “close” • Male intimacy is based on shared activities, not talking • Female intimacy is based on sharing feelings, talking Men do things to express their love whereas women do things as an expression of intimacy that has already been created How might this “complicate” physical interactions between men and women?
Intimacy in Interpersonal RelationshipsCultural Influences on Intimacy In more collectivist cultures, there is a greater distinction between in-group members and strangers They go to extremes to hide personal information about in-group members. By contrast, more individualistic cultures have less of a distinction between personal relationships and casual ones They will air their “dirty laundry” with just about anyone. Engage in airplane “intimacy” Engage in “cocktail party” conversations The willingness to engage in disclosure (intimacy) is dependent on socioeconomic class. Who do you think discloses more? Working-class black males or upwardly mobile black males? Working-class black males
Self-Disclosure in Interpersonal RelationshipsSelf Disclosure Definition? The process of sharing personal information, opinions, and emotions with others that would not normally be known to them. Self-disclosure is multi-dimensional. A type of communication in which we deliberately reveal new information about ourselves. Information is significant – something that is truly a “part” of who you are. This information would typically not be known by others – if the receiving party already knew the information, it is not considered, by this definition, self-disclosure.
Self Disclosure in Interpersonal RelationshipsHow Should We Self-Disclose? CHEERS! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxgwB_mDWWk
Self-Disclosure in Interpersonal RelationshipsWhy do we do it? Catharsis – the need to get something off your chest Self-clarification – revealing something so that the other person can help you figure it out Self-validation – “I think I did the right thing. Let me tell you why I did it…” Reciprocity – “I think I like you…” (Hoping for the same from the other person) Impression management – “I don’t typically accept late work, but” (Professor to student so a trust relationship will be forged / created) Relationship maintenance and enhancement – “I think we need to talk about our relationship…” Control – “I just wanted you to know that one of our competitors just offered me a great position…” (employee to boss – employee is hoping to get a raise and be praised in current position)
Self-Disclosure in Interpersonal RelationshipsSocial Penetration Theory (Onion Theory) Describes the process of relationship bonding in which individuals move from superficial communication to deeper, more intimate communication Relationships are closest when communication is deep, broad, and frequent The Onion Metaphor The onion’s outer skin represents superficial information about your self The inner layers close to the core represent intimate information
Self-Disclosure in Interpersonal RelationshipsSocial Penetration Theory (Onion Theory) Described This is a theory of what happens when relationships develop (doesn’t seek to explain WHY relationships start). The breadth of the relationship has to do with the number of topics you and your partner talk about. The depth of a relationship involves the degree to which you penetrate the inner personality – the core – of the other individual. When a relationship begins to deteriorate, the breadth and depth will, in many ways, reverse themselves. This is a process referred to as depenetration. After depenetration, there may occur something a little interesting – a discussion between the break-upees…then, they can talk about the past garbage and feelings and may actually end up becoming closer friends.
Self-Disclosure in Interpersonal RelationshipsSocial Penetration Theory (Onion Theory) ModelPublicimage Relationship development occurs here
Self-Disclosure in Interpersonal RelationshipsSelf Awareness and the Johari Window Self Awareness You control your thoughts and behaviors largely to the extent that you understand who you are. How well do you know yourself? Your physical self, personality, thoughts, feelings, behaviors? Johari Window: A tool for examining what you know and don’t know about yourself. Open self: what you and others know about you Blind self: things about yourself that others know but you don’t know Hidden self: your secrets; things you know that you do not let others know about you Unknown self: truths about you that neither you nor others know
Johari WindowExample My best friend, Sue (who also knows John) Known to Me Not Known to Me Open Self I am 24 years Blind Self Whether John likes old, like to party, business me, my nervous habits, when Known major in college. I know who I’ve talked too much, when to Sue my best friends are and my I’ve offended someone Sue weakness for Baskin Robbins knows better than I do ice cream. Hidden Self My secret desire Unknown Self Subconscious fears, unconscious fight Not to win an Olympic medal, selfish motives in strategies, unrecognized Known needs, potential as a helping a rich to Sue neighbor, fantasies of being pianist, how I would react to rich and famous the loss of my mother
Johari WindowPersonas Open Personality: Blind Self Very self-aware (smallOpen Self blind self) Happy to self- disclose to others (small hidden self) Unknown Understand Self themselves, but may notHidden Self understand others (and share too personal or embarrassing information)
Johari WindowPersonas Naive Personality: Large blind self thatOpen Self Blind Self others can see They hide little of themselves May make significant social gaffes and notHidden Self Unknown Self even realize what they have done
Johari WindowPersonasOpen Self Blind Self Secret Personality: With a large hidden self, may appear distant or secretive to others Unknown May spend a significant Hidden Self amount of time Self ensconced in their own private world
Johari WindowPersonasOpen Self Blind Self Mysterious Personality: Knows relatively little about themselves Prefer to live in the moment, taking each dayHidden Unknown Self as it comes and notSelf seeking self-awareness They may deliberately enter states of non- thinking and revel in such intuitive paradoxes as knowing through not knowing
Self-Disclosure in Interpersonal RelationshipsCharacteristics of Effective Self-Disclosure Cultural influence – be aware of cultural differences when disclosing or when “judging” others about their disclosures or lack of disclosures Americans disclose more Dyadic – limiting your disclosure to one person at a time limits your personal, relational, and professional risks Symmetrical – typically reciprocal in nature. If one person does all the disclosing, what problem might this indicate? Incremental – amount of info increases over time. We “test” our disclosure partner to see how he/she takes care of the info. Relatively scarce – moderation is best. Not too much and not too little.
Self-Disclosure in Interpersonal RelationshipsGuidelines for Appropriate Self-Disclosure Is the other person important to you? Is the risk of disclosing reasonable? Are both amount and type of disclosure appropriate? Is the disclosure relevant to the situation at hand? Is the disclosure reciprocated? Will the effect be constructive? Is the self-disclosure clear and understandable?
Self-Disclosure in Interpersonal RelationshipsAlternatives to Self-Disclosure Lies Equivocation Altruistic lies Equivocal language To acquire resources Hinting To protect resources Face-saving hint versus direct To initiate and continue statement interaction To avoid conflict To avoid interaction or take leave To present a competent image To increase social desirability