Interpersonal Relationships

By Van Den Hoonaard, Deborah Kestin | Family Relations, October 2001 | Go to article overview

Interpersonal Relationships


Van Den Hoonaard, Deborah Kestin, Family Relations


Dwyer, D. (2000). Interpersonal Relationships. Philadelphia: Routledge. 169 pages. ISBN 0-415-19624-8. Price: $14.95.

Interpersonal Relationships is a first- or second-year textbook that addresses issues of friendship and intimate relationships in more depth than one would find in the usual introductory textbook. It is geared towards lower level university students and is written in a clear, accessible manner. It includes various exercises, summaries of the eight chapters, and a glossary intended to help students identify salient points and begin to apply the material to their own observations about relationships.

The first chapters provide an introduction by describing types of relationships and love as well as introducing the reader to the kind of research that has been carried out on relationships. The emphasis is on experimental research that seeks to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables that might affect relationships. In these two chapters, Dwyer is frank about the limitations of research that has conventionally been carried out in this area, particularly the tendencies of researchers both to use students as subjects and to focus on the early stages of relationships, particularly those of couples.

Subsequent chapters are organized in chronological order as a relationship might progress, beginning with relationship formation and interpersonal attraction and continuing on to the maintenance of relationships and to their dissolution. The last two substantive chapters discuss the components and effects of and variations in relationships. The book concludes with a chapter comprising an extensive study guide that includes advice on writing essays as well as practice essays and examples of summaries of articles that have appeared in peer-reviewed, academic journals.

As may be expected of an introductory textbook, this work does not attempt to provide new knowledge of the field, and its strengths reflect its purpose. Dwyer has written an accessible book that does a good job of summarizing the field and highlighting its limitations. Its narrow range becomes more obvious as the book goes on, and the author concludes with a discussion of several types of relationship that have been neglected; for example, homosexual relationships and relationships in nonWestern, collectivist cultures. Dwyer includes good evaluations of the theories and research that she presents. The evaluations follow the presentation of each theory, thereby allowing readers (most likely undergraduate students) to give some thought to what they read before being told what to think.

The Progress and Review Exercises are a double-edged sword. …

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