Intrapersonal Communication: Different Voices, Different Minds

Intrapersonal Communication: Different Voices, Different Minds

Intrapersonal Communication: Different Voices, Different Minds

Intrapersonal Communication: Different Voices, Different Minds


Intrapersonal communication is a relatively new phenomenon for communication study and still lacks the grounding of a sound theoretical base. The first to present a developed theory of this discipline, this book's goal is to provide graduate students and professionals with an organized point of departure for their research.

The theoretical section begins with an intrapersonal communication theory derived from the sociogenetic views of George Herbert Mead and L. S. Vygotsky. This theory emphasizes social interaction, the developmental nature of mind, and the crucial role of speech in creating a self, a culture, and a mind which then interact in human intrapersonal communication. This section also provides the reader with a coherent interdisciplinary knowledge base taken from speech communication, biology, neurology, cultural psychology, anthropology, sociology, speech pathology, and linguistics. The integrated theoretical perspective that results makes the study compatible with communication scholarship focusing on the social, cultural, cognitive, or performance aspects of communication phenomena.

The applications section examines neurophysiological/intrapersonal communication research methods and studies to date, together with specific applications of intrapersonal communication theory to childhood language acquisition, to the establishment of gender identities, and to intrapersonal competence. The final chapter presents pedagogical guidance on how we can influence intrapersonal competence and performance as well as commenting on the current state of this study and its future prospects. The editor's interstitial commentary facilitates access by readers wishing to constuct their own theory.


Donna R. Vocate

Communication is ubiquitous. If our boss ignores our innovative ideas, the popular press suggests it is because we failed to communicate those ideas effectively. If our spouse leaves us, the reason, according to Donohue's guest expert, is a breakdown in marital communication. If our dog fails obedience school, the dog trainer indicates it is because we did not successfully communicate our expectations to the dog. In short, communication constitutes a buzz word in the current popular culture. Whether the topic is discussed in the media or in more private forums, widespread agreement exists that communication in any context is an important phenomenon that merits our attention and analysis. In contrast, no comparable consensus exists among the specialists in academe with respect to what characterizes communication or what is the most viable theoretical perspective from which to examine it.

One consequence of this is that prominent scholars such as Wood (1992) are reduced to labeling speech communication "an interdisciplinary field" when attempting to account for its disjunctive explanations. This presumed fragmentation in the discipline could be ameliorated by an increase in logically consistent general theory by communication theorists cognizant of their own metatheoretical assumptions (e.g., Dance [1982] speech theory; Cronen,Pearce, &Harris' [1982] coordinated management of meaning). General theory, of course, accounts for a phenomenon across contexts (family, organization, classroom, etc.) and levels (intrapersonal, interpersonal, or public).

In addition to the minimal presence of general theory, other factors have added to the ostensible disparity in communication studies. The expansion of communication scholarship during recent decades to include a social science perspective as well as a humanistic one has contributed to speech communication's diversity, and lack of the singular focus that characterizes and unifies the idealized academic discipline. Another factor contributing to communication's heterogenous character is the failure of some communication scholars to consider the compatibility of exogamous or extrinsic metatheoretical assumptions before borrowing concepts from other academic fields (Vocate, 1991). Such indiscriminate borrowing could be attributed to an inadequate review of metatheory in some graduate programs, or again to the shortage of general theory in the field to guide research efforts on various communication topics.

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