Better Living Through
Science? Reflections on the
Future of Interpersonal
Mary Anne Rtzpatrick
It is reasonable to argue that this book could not have been written more than 30 years ago for two major reasons. First, the topics examined in the research on interpersonal communication would have been quite different from those pursued by the authors here. During the 1950s and 1960s, the study of interpersonal communication moved not only into the study of social and personal relationships but also into consideration of a number of different kinds of face-to-face communication events (Fitzpatrick, 1999). Current research in interpersonal communication focuses on core strategic (e.g., compliance gaining, deception) and nonstrategic (e.g., self-disclosure, emotional messages) communication processes that occur between people in a variety of contexts. Social influence and persuasion are still central areas of study within interpersonal communication although they are not the only venues for research.
Second, meta-analysis, a way to average results across studies, only became a widespread technique in the mid-1970s. Meta-analysis is a technique to review the empirical literature in which summary statistics from each study (e.g., means or correlations) are treated as units of analysis, and