Communication, Language, and Meaning: Psychological Perspectives

By George A. Miller | Go to book overview

19 COMMUNICATION IN SMALL GROUPS

Robert Freed Bales

For one reason or another, everyone spends a sizable fraction of his life interacting with other people in small groups. Whether for work or pleasure, such groups comprise a large part of our social lives, so it is not surprising that social scientists have been interested in understanding what goes on in such groups.

Our communication with each other in face-to-face situations is very subtle and complex. In addition to the meanings of the words used, there is a rich flow of contextual information by mutual eye contact. Bodily attitudes, gestures, and facial expressions play an important part. The obvious meaning of what is said in words is only a part, sometimes only a small part, of what is communicated, as we all know (see Chapter 21).

It has been found that a surprising amount of information is carried by the form of the interaction itself. For example, one can usually infer something about the relative dominance of members in a small group simply by counting the number of remarks each makes to the others. The number of remarks is roughly equivalent to the time consumed. In a small group, time is like money or property. It is not distributed equally among members, but in a gradient that has some relation to the social status of the members. Talking time in a group is not something that a member has with security -- it is usually something for which he must compete. Some members take it almost by force, in that they take more than others are willing to give them. They exercise power in the taking of time, though they may not gain legitimate status. An increase in the amount

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Communication, Language, and Meaning: Psychological Perspectives
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • The Authors v
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • 1: Psychology and Communication 3
  • 2: Psychology and the Theory of Language 13
  • 3: The Realm of Syntax 23
  • 4: The Realm of Meaning 36
  • 5: Biological Aspects of Language 49
  • 6: The Brain and Language 61
  • 7: Speech Development and Bird Song: Are There Any Parallels? 73
  • 8: Primate Communication 84
  • 9: Teaching Apes to Communicate 95
  • 10: The Development of Language in Children 107
  • 11 - Learning to Read 117
  • 12: The Speech Code 128
  • 13: Artificial Speech 141
  • 14: Language and Perception 149
  • 15: Language and Memory 159
  • 16: Language and Thought 172
  • 17: Language and Probability 185
  • 18: Communication and Computers 196
  • 19: Communication in Small Groups 208
  • 20: Mass Communication 219
  • 21: Nonverbal Communication 231
  • 22: Persuasion 242
  • 23: Language and Psychopathology 256
  • 24: The Sociology of Language 268
  • 25: Translation and Bilingualism 280
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 291
  • Index 299
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