Book Reviews -- the Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication Edited by William R. Cupach and Brian H. Spitzberg
Fischer, Judith L., Journal of Marriage and Family
The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication. William R. Cupach & Brian H. Spitzberg (Eds.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 1994, 408 pp. ISBN 0-8058-1167-2 $69.95 cloth.
This edited volume employs the metaphor of the dark side to explore underdeveloped areas of research on interpersonal relationships. Some aspects of the dark side, such as family violence, have been studied by family scholars for several decades, and have been discussed by psychodynamic psychologists for even longer. Nonetheless, as noted in this volume, the emerging field of close relationships has focused more attention on the positive side of close relationships than on the dark side.
Steve Duck describes the conceptual framework for the volume in the first chapter. Duck introduces several themes that reappear in later chapters of the book and he does so in a witty and stylish manner. One of the most important themes is that the dark side needs to be viewed as normative and functional; the dark side is as much a part of relationships as the positive side. As this theme is played out in other chapters, it reminds the reader of the approach to human development that sees growth as one possible outcome emerging from dialectical processes--processes that are integrative of seemingly opposing experiences.
Duck also provides a taxonomy of the dark side with intentionality as one of the dimensions. The theme of intention of the actor occurs again in later chapters such as Vangelisti's on hurtful messages and the chapter by O'Hair and Cody on deception. Both chapters discuss attributions, but neither explicitly invokes the idea of "distress maintaining attributions" that has illuminated (and frustrated intervention in) distressed marital relationships. …