Interpersonal Communication Research: Advances through Meta-Analysis

By Mike Allen; Raymond W. Preiss et al. | Go to book overview

course, the question before us concerns how we can make better use of the general map.

First, we believe that it is necessary to consider meta-analytic findings as complementing qualitative research, as well as quantitative research and narrative reviews. Because meta-analytic findings can only utilize quantitative results, one way to check the findings is to determine if they coincide with other findings. A difference in findings between two types of research would probably suggest that more than one way exists to understand any given communicative behavior.

A second consideration for future interpersonal researchers concerns narrowing the perspective offered by meta-analytic findings. Meta-analysis tends to offer a macro perspective of communicative behavior. For example, meta-analytic research on communication apprehension suggests that all three of the major approaches to dealing with communication apprehension are effective in bringing about a decrease in communication apprehension level. However, the findings do not offer a detailed understanding of the more specific, micro elements that constitute each of the approaches.

A third and final consideration for interpersonal communication research is greater concentration of the process of communication. As stated earlier, meta-analyses do not tend to explore minute communicative processes, although they could do so given carefully reasoned decision rules that help categorize various types of interaction patterns. More often than not, communication researchers concentrate on single communicative events rather than on communication as an ongoing process. Such understanding of interpersonal communication as a singular occurrence does not provide a complete picture of that behavior. It is time for interpersonal communication researchers to focus on ways that interactive processes are captured in a way that can be summarized.

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