Communication, Social Cognition, and Affect

Communication, Social Cognition, and Affect

Communication, Social Cognition, and Affect

Communication, Social Cognition, and Affect


Mounting attention in the research literature has been paid to the roles of social cognition and affect in the communication process. This tightly-knit collection presents the most current original research in this area from leading researchers in communication and psychology. The volume presents a well-integrated account of important interdisciplinary approaches to communication processes, cognitive processes, and behavior.


At an early stage in the development of this volume, the editors prepared a list of topics to be covered and possible contributors on those subjects. This was our optimal list of topics and chapter authors--many of the best-known names in our fields. Although many other worthy contributors could have been included, these were our first choices and we hoped some of them would be excited enough by our prospectus for the proposed volume to want to participate. The response matched our most optimistic hopes. Everyone accepted.

In late April 1986 the authors met at the University of Kentucky's Carnahan Conference Center. They presented first drafts of their chapters, exchanged ideas, and came to know each other considerably better. Out of these interactions has come a book that we feel has broad interest across several areas of psychology and communication.

The purpose of this book is, first of all, to explore the interrelations among communication, social cognition, and affect. We believe the contributors of this volume significantly add to our knowledge of this interdisciplinary domain. While answering a number of questions, the authors also pose other questions for future examination.

Each of the editors comes to this venture from a different background. Lewis Donohew is a former working journalist and one of his graduate degrees is in political science. However, his graduate work in mass communication and psychology at Iowa turned him toward what has become a sustained interest in psychophysiological approaches to communication. Howard Sypher's undergraduate degree also is in political science and his interest in the relationship between cognition and communication developed at the University of Michigan. Tory Higgins has an equally interdisciplinary background. He did his undergraduate work at McGill in anthropology, followed by graduate work at the London School of Economics, then a Ph.D. in social psychology at Columbia. He has blended an original interest in developmental and anthropological approaches to communication with cognitive psychology in focusing on interpersonal goals and communication. Although each of the authors' backgrounds is different, all share the belief that the area of research explored in this work is best illuminated by interdisciplinary efforts. Obviously, not every perspective could be accommodated in this volume. The editors sought to limit this effort to psychological perspectives while allowing for theoretical diversity.

Why, then, a volume focusing on communication, social cognition and affect at this time? There are several reasons:

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