The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication

By Brian H. Spitzberg; William R. Cupach | Go to book overview

The decision of the jury hearing People versus Phillips was that the chiropractor was guilty of murder. It seems that sticks and stones may break your bones, and words can kill you. The competence with which we communicate and interact with one another potentially carries such dark consequences.

Yet, competence is an elusive phenomenon. Everyday behavior often makes it seem ephemeral, and its mercurial character has frustrated most scholarly investigation. The centrality of competence to relationship development has not been commonly recognized. Communicative competence is integral to relational functioning, in at least three fundamental ways ( Spitzberg, 1993). First, competent communication facilitates the satisfactory development and management of relationships. Second, competence impressions moderate the influence of behavior in relationships. For example, research has shown that the role that conflict behavior plays in relational outcomes depends on how it influences the coactor's view of the actor's competence ( Canary & Cupach, 1988; Canary & Spitzberg, 1987, 1989, 1990). Third, the self-inference of competence has significant impacts on confidence, motivation, efficacy, and the behavioral course of relational interaction ( Bandura, 1990; Kolligian, 1990). Given the importance of competence to the functioning of relationships, it is essential that inquiry comes to grips with its nature. Traditionally, scholarship has oversimplified the construct of competence and fallen prey to ideologies that have steered theory away from potentially fertile fields of investigation. This book is an attempt to redress these deficits by focusing on the many ways in which the dark side is both normative and often quite competent.


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The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • References ix
  • PART I - Shades of Darkness in Interpersonal Relations 1
  • Chapter 1 - Stratagems, Spoils, and a Serpent's Tooth: On the Delights and Dilemmas of Personal Relationships 3
  • Acknowledgments 20
  • References 20
  • Chapter 2 - The Dark Side of (in) Competence 25
  • References 41
  • PART II - The Maze of Messages 51
  • Chapter 3 - Messages that Hurt 53
  • Acknowledgments 78
  • References 78
  • Chapter 4 - Patterns of Interational Paradoxes 83
  • References 100
  • Chapter 5 - Equivocations as an Interactional Event 105
  • References 122
  • PART III - The Face Beneath the Masks 125
  • Chapter 6 - Conversational Dilemmas 127
  • References 157
  • Chapter 7 - Social Predicaments 159
  • References 176
  • Chapter 8 - Deception 181
  • Acknowledgments 211
  • References 211
  • PART IV - Relational Webs 215
  • Chapter 9 - Relational Transgressions 217
  • References 238
  • Chapter 10 - Privacy Binds in Family Interactions: The Case of Parental Privacy Invasion 241
  • References 256
  • Chapter 11 - The Dark Side of "Normal" Family Interaction 259
  • References 276
  • Chapter 12 - Physical and Psychological Abuse 281
  • References 306
  • PART V - Fetching Good out of Evil 313
  • Chapter 13 - Dark Side Dénouement 315
  • References 319


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