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IPC Chapter 9 Notes

by: RachelB

IPC Chapter 9 Notes COMM 1076

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Chapter 9- Dynamics of Interpersonal Relationships
Intro to Interpersonal communication (COMM-1076-002)
Dr. Shaorong Huang
Class Notes
interpersonal communication
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This 8 page Class Notes was uploaded by RachelB on Sunday March 13, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to COMM 1076 at University of Cincinnati taught by Dr. Shaorong Huang in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 31 views. For similar materials see Intro to Interpersonal communication (COMM-1076-002) in Psychlogy at University of Cincinnati.


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Date Created: 03/13/16
IPC Notes Buckel Chapter 9- Dynamics of Interpersonal Relationships Why We Form Relationships Appearance  The more attractive a person is, the more likely he or she will be seen as desirable o Other factors such as social skills and intelligence didn’t seem to affect the decision (in a study done with blind dates)  First impressions influence secondary ones o 1 impression- based on attraction o Secondary- ex) online business profiles that use attractive photos tend to entice users to viewing their material more positively  Even if your appearance isn’t beautiful by societal standards, there is still hope o Ordinary-looking people with pleasing personalities are likely to be judged as attractive and perceived beauty can be influenced by traits such as liking, respect, familiarity, and social interaction Similarity  Similarity Thesis- forming a relationship with someone who seems to like the same things you like, appears to have similar values, and may even be of the same race, economic class, or educational standing  People are more likely to welcome others into their life who are perceived to be similar o Research shows that speed daters are more attracted to similarities they believe they have (“we seem to have a lot in common”) than to actual similarities.  What this proves: attraction is subjective  Similarity is a strong foundation for relationships o They can be validating- the fact that another person shares your beliefs, tastes, and values is a form of ego support  Results showed that people are likely to marry others whose names resemble their own, those with similar birthdays and even sports jersey numbers o Second, when someone is similar to you, you can make fairly accurate predictions  Whether the person will want to eat at the Mexican restaurant or hear the concert you’re so excited about- being able to make predictions reduces uncertainty and anxiety o Third, when we learn that other people are similar to us, we assume they’ll probably like us, so we, in turn, like them  This plays a part in self-fulfilling prophecy (chapter 3)  Similarity can turn to dislike when a certain trait of the other person is unappealing o Someone who is “just like you” could talk too much, complain, or have other unappealing characteristics o People usually have a stronger dislike to people who are similar and offensive, rather than offensive but different Complementarity  Complementary- when each partner’s characteristics satisfy the other’s needs o Ex) research found that couples are more likely to be attracted to each other when one partner is dominant and the other is passive  Relationships work well when one or the other takes the lead in certain situations o “you make the final decision about the money, and I’ll take care of decorating the new place”  Studies show that when partners are radically different, the dissimilar qualities that at first appear intriguing later become cause for relational breakups Rewards  Exchange Theory- we often seek out people who can give us rewards that are greater than or equal to the costs we encounter in dealing with them  Social exchange theorists define rewards as any outcomes we desire o Tangible- nice place to live, high paying job o Intangible- prestige, emotional support, companionship  Reward – Costs = Outcome o This formula calculates whether a relationship is a “good deal” or “not worth the effort” based on whether the outcome is positive or negative o Some relationships deem this as “cold and calculating” but for some other relationships it’s appropriate  Ex) business relationships are based on how well the parties help one another, not on emotional connections  Costs and rewards don’t exist in isolation- they are defined as comparing a certain situation with alternatives o Ex) when you’re alone, there are no outside factors affecting your thoughts and decision- making  Comparison Level (CL)- minimum standard of what behavior is acceptable from a relationship partner o Ex) faithfulness, respect  Comparison Level of Alternatives (CL )- a altparison between the rewards one is receiving in a resent situation and those one could expect to receive in others o Ex) not wanting to be alone vs being in a less-than-desirable relationship  Social exchange theorists suggest that communicators unconsciously use this calculus to decide whether to form and stay in relationships Competency  We are attracted to talented people, but too much talent is a threat. We’re most attracted to talented people with warm personalities  Experiment that was held: o 2 students: honors/perfect student/athlete, average student/athlete o 4 conditions:  1. A person with superior ability who blundered  2. A person with superior ability who did not blunder  3. Average person who blundered  4. Average person who did not blunder o Attractiveness of these students were rated- the winner was the superior student who blundered  Conclusion: They are competent, but are somewhat flawed, reminding us of ourselves Proximity  We’re more likely to make relationships with people in close proximity with us o Ex) close neighbors- we live so near them we develop relationships o Ex) students who sit in desks next to us vs other side of the classroom usually become closer friends  Proximity even in social media (messaging and chatting can create virtual proximity) o When it comes to social networking, cultural proximity outweighs geographic proximity Disclosure  Sometimes the basis of attraction comes from learning about ways we are similar, either in experiences (“I broke off an engagement myself”) or in attitudes (“I feel nervous with strangers, too”)  Sharing private information is a form of respect and trust, but doesn’t always lead to liking someone o Research shows that the key to satisfying self-disclosure is reciprocity- getting back an amount and kind of information equivalent to that which you reveal Relational Dynamics and Communication Developmental models of Interpersonal Relationships  Relational Maintenance- communication aimed at keeping relationships operating smoothly and satisfactorily o Ex) behaving in a positive way, being open, and assuring your partner that you’re committed to the relationship Initiating  Initiating- the first stage in relational development in which the interactants express interest in one another  In this stage, communication is usually brief- handshakes, small talk o Communication is just enough so that the other person knows you’re interested in building some kind of relationship  When building relationships, people who are shy are more likely to open up online Experimenting  Experimenting- early stage in relational development, consisting of a search for common ground. If the experimentation is successful, the relationship progresses to intensifying. If not, it may go no further o Ex) small talk- “what’s your major?” “You’re a runner too? How many miles do you run per week?” etc.  Online profiles and social networking has decreased the need for small talk, as profiles give individuals as much or even more information about someone than face-to-face conversation o Photos, mutual friends, etc. tell you a lot about a person Intensifying  Intensifying- relational stage following experimenting in which the interactants move toward integration by increasing their amount of contact and the breadth and depth of their self- disclosure o Includes spending more time together, participating in shared activities, hanging out with mutual friends, or taking trips together  In romantic relationships, this stage is often a time of relational excitement and even euphoria  This stage doesn’t last forever, which can make members doubt their relationship and discover each other’s flaws o This may not signify the end of a relationship, but rather an entrance to another stage Integrating  Integrating- relational stage in which the interactants begin to take on a single identity o Invitations begin to come addressed to a couple, social circles merge, partners share each other’s commitments o Inclusive words like “our”, “we” and “us”  Routines and rituals are developed that reinforce their identity as a couple o Jogging together, eating at a favorite restaurant, expressing physical affection  As we become more integrated with others, our sense of obligation to them grows o We feel obliged to provide a variety of resources, such as class notes and money, whether they ask for them or not  When intimates make requests of one another, it is often straightforward, without elaborate explanations, inducements, and apologies Bonding  Bonding- stage in which partners make symbolic public gestures to show that their relationship exists o Includes engagement or marriage, sharing a residence, a public ceremony, or a written or verbal pledge  Relationships don’t have to be romantic to achieve bonding o Ex) authors contacting each other to write a book together or a student being initiated into a sorority  The public display and declaration of exclusivity make this a critical period in the relationship Differentiating  Differentiating- stage in which the partners reestablish their individual identities after having bonded  This transition often shows up in a couple’s pronoun usage o Instead of talking about “our” weekend plans, the conversation focuses on what “I” want to do  Relational issues that were once agreed on (“you’ll be the breadwinner and I’ll manage the home”) now become points of contention (“Why am I stuck at home when I have better career potential than you?”  Differentiating can be positive o Some couples want to stay connected to their cultural values as well as to each other o Many people who want to forge their own unique lives and identity also want to continue to maintain their relationships Circumscribing  Circumscribing- stage in which partners begin to reduce the scope of their contact and commitment to one another o Ex) “my friends” and “your friends” instead of “our friends” Stagnating  Stagnating- declining enthusiasm and standardized forms of behavior- “going through the motions” o Ex) going to a job/being in a relationship you’ve lost enthusiasm to but are staying a part of the routine Avoiding  Avoiding- partners minimize contact with one another/ make excuses not to see each other  There are many ways to gain distance o Expressing detachment- avoiding the other person altogether, or zoning out o Avoiding involvement- leaving the room, ignoring a person’s questions, steering clear of touching, and being superficially polite o Showing antagonism- behaving in a hostile way and treating the other person as a lesser person o Mentally dissociation- thinking about the other person as less capable, or as unimportant Terminating  Terminating- the conclusion of a relationship, characterized by the acknowledgment of one or both partners that the relationship is over  The relationship can end with a dinner, a note, a phone call, a text, or a legal document  Can be short and amicable, or bitterly drawn out  Technology has changed this process, making it easier than face-to-face conversation and often ruins post-relationship goodwill Dialectical Perspectives on Relational Dynamics  Some theorists suggest that communicators grapple with the same kinds of challenges whether a relationship is brand new or has lasted decades  Dialectical tensions- relational tensions that arise when two opposing or incompatible forces exist simultaneously  Integration vs Separation o Integration-Separation Dialectic- the tension between the desire for connection with others and the desire for independence o Connection-Autonomy Dialectic- the tension between the need for integration and the need for independence in a relationship o Inclusion-seclusion dialectic- the tension between a couple’s desire for involvement with the “outside world” and their desire to live their own lives, free of what can feel like interference from others  Stability vs Change o Stability-Change Dialectic- the tension between the desire to keep a relationship predictable and stable and the desire for novelty and change o Predictability-Novelty Dialectic- within a relationship, the tension between the need for a predictable relational partner and one who is more spontaneous and less predictable o Conventionality-Uniqueness Dialectic- the tension between the need to behave in ways that conform to others’ expectations and the need to assert one’s individuality by behaving in ways that violate others’ expectations  Expression vs Privacy o Expression-Privacy Dialectic- the tension between the desire to be open and self- disclose and the desire to be closed and private o Openness-Closedness Dialectic- the tension between the desire to be honest and open and the desire for privacy o Revelation-Concealment Dialectic- the tension between a couple’s desire to be open and honest with the “outside world” and their desire to keep things to themselves  Strategies for Managing Dialectical Tensions o Denial- communicators respond to one end of the dialectical spectrum and ignore the other  Ex) a couple caught between the conflicting desires for stability and novelty might find their struggle for change difficult to manage and follow predictable, unexciting patterns of relating to one another o Disorientation- communicators feel overwhelmed and helpless so they are unable to confront their problems  Ex) they might fight, freeze, or even leave the relationship- a couple that discovers after their honeymoon that a “happily ever after” isn’t possible and may think the marriage is a mistake o Alternation- communicators choose one end of the dialectical spectrum at some times and the other end on different occasions  Ex) friends might manage the dialectic by alternating between times when they spend a large amount of time together and other periods when they live independent lives o Segmentation- partners compartmentalize different areas of their relationship  Ex) a couple might manage the openness-closedness dialectic by sharing almost all their feelings about mutual friends with one another but keeping certain parts of their past romantic histories private o Balance- Communicators who try to balance dialectical tensions recognize that both forces are legitimate and try to manage them through compromise o Integration- communicators simultaneously accept opposing forces without trying to diminish them o Recalibration- communicators can respond to dialectical challenges by reframing them so that the apparent contradiction disappears  Ex) a couple that felt hurt by one another’s unwillingness to share parts of their past might redefine the secrets as creating an attractive aura of mystery instead of being a problem to be solved o Reaffirmation- acknowledges that dialectical tensions will never disappear. Instead of trying to make them go away, reaffirming communicators accept (or even embrace) the challenges they present  Generally speaking, integration, recalibration, and reaffirmation are seen as the most productive for managing dialectical tensions. Researchers suggest using multiple strategies Communicating About Relationships Content and Relational Messages  Every statement we make goes beyond discussing the subject at hand and says something about the way the speaker feels about the recipient and their relationship  Most of the time, we are unaware of the relational messages- some of these messages don’t capture our awareness because they match our belief about the amount of control, liking, or intimacy that is appropriate in a relationship o Ex) you probably wouldn’t be offended if your boss tells you to drop everything and tackle a certain job because you agree that supervisors have the right to direct employees. However, if your boss delivered the order in a condescending, sarcastic, or abusive tone of voice, you’d probably be offended. Your complaint wouldn’t be with the order itself but with the way it was delivered.  Metacommunication- Messages (usually relational) that refer to other messages; communication about communication o Ex) “I wish we could stop arguing so much” or “I appreciate how honest you’ve been with me” Maintaining and Supporting Relationships  Relational Maintenance o Positivity- keeping the relational climate polite and upbeat while avoiding criticism o Openness- talking directly about the nature of the relationship and disclosing your personal needs and concerns. This includes metacommunicating. o Assurances- letting the other person know-both verbally and nonverbally- that he or she matters to you and that you are committed to the relationship o Social Networks- being invested in each other’s friends, family, and loved ones o Sharing tasks- helping one another take care of life’s chores and obligations o With family and friends, openness and social networks were most used o In romantic relationships, assurances were the most used  Social Support o Social Support- helping others during challenging times by providing emotional, informational, or instrumental resources o Emotional Support- keeping your messages person centered (focused on the emotions of the speaker)  Ex) “this must be difficult for you” rather than “it’s not the end of the world” o Informational support- the people around us give us advice from shopping to relationships- advice is likely to be regarded as supportive fi it’s wanted and requested by the person in need o Instrumental Support- doing a task or favor to show that you care  Ex) giving a ride to the airport or caregiving during illness o Note: many people find much more support from social media due to the wider range of people to appeal to, although support from loved ones is more appreciated Repairing Damaged Relationships  Relational Transgressions- violations of explicit or implicit terms of a relationship, letting the partner down in some important way  Types of relational transgressions: o Minor vs Significant- little bits of jealousy or anger can show affection or “resolve a gripe”, but too much of these things can damage the balance of a relationship o Social vs Relational- some transgressions violate social rules laid out by society  Ex) almost everyone would agree that humiliating a friend or family member in public violates the rules of “saving others’ face” Other transgressions violate relational rules- norms constructed by the people involved  Ex) some families have rules saying “I’ll let you know if I’ll be more than a little bit late so you don’t worry”- failure to honor such a rule feels like a violation o Deliberate vs Unintentional- you might reveal something embarrassing about a friend’s past by accident, but you could intentionally lash out in a fit of anger with a cruel comment, knowing it could hurt the other person o One-time vs Incremental- some transgressions occur in a single episode (a verbal assault, walking out in anger) while others happen over time (withdrawing oneself for emotional space, but the space eventually becoming wedged between those in the relationship) Relational Repair/Forgiving Transgressions  Talk about the violation- state negative outcomes of the transgression or make an explicit demand for an apology  In other cases, you might be responsible for the transgression and want to rise it for discussion o Ex)“what did I do that you found so hurtful?” “why was my behavior a problem for you?”  For the best chance at repairing a relationship, an apology must be offered. It will be convincing only if the speaker’s nonverbal behaviors match what is said o Even then, don’t expect immediate forgiveness  Forgiving others has been proven to have both personal and relational benefits o Reduce emotional distress/aggression, improve cardiovascular functioning, restore damaged relationships, and makes one less likely to repeat their offense


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