The dark side of human interaction has always intrigued us. Indeed, we suspect that most people are naturally curious about it. The dark side always makes for an engaging story; it implies mystery, intrigue, and dramatic irony. Its very elusive and enigmatic nature compels us to explore it, though perhaps with some trepidations.
We are struck by the fact that competent interpersonal communication is not merely a matter of good persons speaking well. Rather, social actors are faced routinely with the symbolic reality that humans are "rotten with perfection," as Kenneth Burke ( 1966) would say. To fully understand how people effectively function requires us to consider how individuals cope with social interaction that is difficult, problematic, challenging, distressing, and disruptive.
We realize that the dark side is not a new angle on human behavior. Nevertheless, it remains elusive, enigmatic, and inscrutable. So we set out to revisit this territory, inviting some of the sharpest social scientists in their respective fields to share their unique insights regarding the dark side of interpersonal interactions. The goal was not to map the entire territory of darkness in human relations. Rather, we attempted to illuminate a representative sample of phenomena lurking in the dark side. We considered numerous potential topics and somewhat arbitrarily settled on the chapters contained in this book. The authors of these chapters provide a state-of-the-art picture of their respective corners of academic interest.
The chapters contained in this book are divided into four, somewhat over-