The Unexpressive Male

An excellent class discussion can easily be built around the recent study, “Guys can’t say that to guys”: Four experiments assessing the normative motivation account for deficiencies in the emotional support provided by men (Communication Monographs, 72, December, 468-501) by Brant Burleson, Amanda Holmstrom, and Cristina Gilstrap. The basic question they asked was what accounts for males not being as emotionally supportive as women. The answer, according to this study: “Our present studies suggest that men use lower quality forms of emotional support because, in part, they want to maintain a masculine gender-role identity, particularly when interacting with other men.” It’s hard to believe that men are so focused on maintaining a “masculine gender role identity” that they would fail to provide significant/appropriate levels of emotional support. But if they are, surely we’ve done something wrong—as parents, as friends, as teachers of interpersonal communication (and of psychology, sociology, anthropology, and lots more). And, perhaps the more interesting question, what to do?

A new phonetic symbol

Reports the New York Times (12/13/05, p. F4): A new phonetic symbol, the first in 12 years, has been added to the 28 vowel, 86 consonant, and 75 other marks for stress and aspiration, for example by the International Phonetic Association. The new symbol, called a labiodental flap, is written as a “V” with a little curve on the left and is intended to represent the sound in some 70 African languages that sounds like a buzz with a slight pop.


Exposure to noise is correlated with an increase in the risk of heart attack. Although a cause-effect relationship has not been proven conclusively, the evidence does suggest that noise is likely a cause in the increase of heart attack risk. According to the New York Times (12/13/05, p. E5): “The bottom line: Chronic exposure to noise is associated with a higher risk of heart disease.”

Conflict and Healing

In an interesting study subjects had blisters created on their arms with a vacuum pump. Then the couples (42 happily married couples, aged 22-77) interacted in two ways: (1) discussing something they wanted to change about themselves and asking their spouses for support and (2) resolving a marital conflict. Not surprisingly, the blisters healed more quickly after the supportive discussion than after the conflict discussion. And the very hostile couples healed at less than half the rate of the low-hostility couples. This little report appeared in the New York Times December 13, 2005, p. F6. The study was published in the December issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, but as far as I can tell, is not in the popular databases yet.



In a special report in USA Today it appears that blind dating is coming back. Long regarded as a last resort, people are now looking differently at the set up date—there’s likely to be more accurate descriptions (less chance of deception) than would appear in Internet dating and less chance of meeting a true undesirable at a singles club. At least some mutual friend thinks enough of the person to recommend him or her and that’s more than you get from the bar or the Internet.

Ethics and Business

In a USA Today survey, 69 percent of teens between 13 and 18 agreed that good business ethics led to greater success—up from 62% in 2004 and 56% in 2003.


Seeing Lynne Truss’s Talk to the Hand—an interesting perspective on manners and their decline to downright rudeness--(she also wrote Eats, Shoots & Leaves, btw) reviewed in the Times, I recalled how effectively using an etiquette book along with a standard interpersonal text worked in the Introduction to Interpersonal Communication course. The students were amazingly receptive to it and realized this was also a part of communication that they needed to know if they were going to make it in the business world. I gave them a list of etiquette books at the beginning of the semester and told them that they should examine several and pick the one they thought would help them the most. Since they were all using different books, I really couldn’t test them on it but I’m convinced they read them; they frequently referred to the etiquette books during class discussions and I saw many students carrying the book.



Here’s an interesting update on the overly brief discussion of outing in some of my books. A federal judge has ruled that Charlene Nguon may proceed with her lawsuit against the principal of Santiago High School in Garden Grove, California for outing her to her parents. The judge ruled that the student had “sufficiently alleged a legally protected privacy interest in information about her sexual orientation.” Of course, it’s too early to say what will happen here but it’s nice to see someone standing up for the right to privacy.

Relationship News

South Africa’s highest court recently ruled (unanimously) that partners in same-sex marriages will be given the same legal status as those in opposite-sex marriages. Marriage laws will be amended to include the words “or spouse” along with the provisions referring to “wives” and “husbands.” Although it will take a year for the ruling to go into effect—to give Parliament the time it needs to amend a marriage law from 1961—South Africa will soon join four other nations that have legalized same-sex marriage: the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Canada.


The recent revelation that the United States has been paying public relations experts to write stories favorable to the US military to be published in Iraqi newspapers in a multimillion-dollar covert propaganda campaign must be giving journalism classes an interesting ethics lesson. And, apparently, US tax dollars are also being paid to Iraqi journalists to write the right stories. And, many of these stories use copyrighted material without attribution. I anxiously await the reactions of our national communication associations or will it be just business as usual and the familiar blind eye toward the real world?


Deception Detection

In the December issue of Money magazine there’s an interesting article on detecting deception, not in relationships as many in communication study it but in terms of dealing with real estate brokers or employers—a kind of interesting take. The article, by Etelka Lehoczky, offers four suggestions for catching a liar: (1) do not trust your instincts—a combination of skepticism and humility about your instincts works best; (2) deter lies—make yourself a harder target to be lied to; questioning what you’re told and arming yourself with information will often deter attempts at lying; (3) detect lies—watch the nonverbals, though here you’re on shaky ground since truth tellers when confronted with difficult questions often respond in the same way as liars (e.g., revising statements, looking puzzled, glancing upward to think); and (4) focus on the truth—amid unrelated questions keep returning to the original issue and see if the person responds with the same words and in the same way; if so, the person may be lying. The nonverbals—such as touching your face, shrugging your shoulders, steepling, and sitting still—are often good starting points for asking yourself if the person is lying but research has not been able to substantiate the reliability of these cues. In fact, at the recent NCA convention I attended a panel on deception detection in relationships and Tim Levine, from Michigan State, the respondent, noted—correctly as I read the literature—that nonverbal cues are often misleading and that the more reliable cues will be found from a linguistic analysis of the statements. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear Judee Burgoon who also addressed this topic in her Carroll C. Arnold distinguished lecture on “Truth, Deception, and Virtual Worlds.” But, that speech I understand will be sent to NCA members, courtesy of Allyn & Bacon. It will be well worth reading, I’m sure.

NCA Convention

The 2005 convention is over and was o.k. Too many of the papers, I thought, were in the nature of thinking out loud instead of well-reasoned, well-thought out, and well-researched studies. And for the most part I thought the presenters failed to address the really important issues facing the discipline, education, the nation, and the world. There were exceptions, of course, and those were a pleasure to hear.


Public Speaking with PowerPoint

Just in case you haven’t seen Time magazine (11/14/05, p. 96) there are some interesting notes on public speaking. For example, according to Microsoft, PowerPoint is used in an estimated 30 million presentations throughout the world every day—not that many when you consider that PowerPoint has over 400 million users. No statistics on how many of these users are in our public speaking classes. Among the new developments: a digital remote with a laser pointer built in, Ovation software that enables you to create a scrolling teleprompter onscreen, and Keynote 2, an inexpensive alternative to PowerPoint from Apple. Among the public speaking suggestions offered in this brief piece: begin with a bang (avoid apologizing, thanking people, or explaining how you picked the topic), keep your slides simple (limit bullets to 6 words), use multimedia (pictures, video, and music), and tell a story with colorful anecdotes.


Where is NCA?

Regardless of your political affiliations or leanings, shouldn’t we all be surprised (shocked, disturbed, annoyed, angered—take your pick) at NCA’s silence on the issues of communication ethics and free speech facing the nation today? The failure of the White House to level with the people over the leaking of the name of the covert CIA operative, the prisons of torture, and the “evidence” for “weapons of mass destruction” that led to a war that killed over 2000 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis (with the number rising every day)—to name just a few—surely seem like communication issues. This is not to say that NCA should become a partisan political organization, but shouldn’t we expect the National Communication Association to have something to say about the need for open, free, and truthful communication (and the current lack of such communication) with particular reference to these issues that newspapers, news magazines, and even Jay Leno address daily? Where is NCA?


Relationship Website from Australia

This is a great website with lots of stuff on relationships and on relationship conflict management. It's definitely worth a look.
Australian Relationship Support



The recent article by William Safire in the New York Times (magazine section, 11/6/05) on “homolexicology” adds nothing really new to the discussion of cultural identifiers in our texts except for some interesting historical notes. For example, the word “gay” originally meant “lighthearted” and was a slang term in British English for “a loose woman” in 1825. The term was then used to refer to a “homosexual boy” in 1935.
Later, of course, it was generalized to include all those who had an affectional orientation to same-sex others. [As I write this I notice that Microsoft Word underlines “affectional,” indicating that it’s not in its dictionary.] Although technically the term “gay” can be used to refer to both homosexual men and homosexual women, gay women are increasingly preferring the term “lesbian” since “gay” has become so identified with homosexual men and implies in some way that women are a subset of men. It’s similar in some ways to our elimination of such terms as “poetess” and “actress” which imply that the unmarked “poet” and “actor” are male. The word “queer” can be used to refer to both homosexual men and women but, because of its still negative connotation, it’s almost universally resented when used by “outsiders,” much like other “negatively” nuanced cultural identifiers. This is just a specific instance of the general rule that the linguistic privilege to use terms that may have negative connotations—whether referring to nationalities, races, or affectional orientations—is limited to insiders (i.e., members of the group in question). Safire correctly notes (as I do in the texts) that the term “homosexual” is generally inappropriate when referring to a gay man or lesbian largely because of its almost exclusive emphasis on sexuality and also because it does not include the social and cultural dimensions of same-sex orientation which “lesbian” and “gay” do.
Relevant to this little lexicology post are the titles of the two volumes written by NCA members of the GLBT division and caucus. The first, published in 1981, was called Gayspeak: Gay Male and Lesbian Communication (Pilgrim Press) and the second, published in 1994, was called Queer Words, Queer Images: Communication and the Construction of Homosexuality (NYU Press). GLBT or LGBT, btw, stands for “gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender” or “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” and seems to be gaining acceptance as the most inclusive designation, though not without political ramifications.
And, just to make matters a bit more confusing, the NCA caucus is named the “Caucus on Gay and Lesbian Concerns” but the NCA Division is called the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Communication Studies Division.


The curriculum vita

It's been customary to include an academic vita on these websites and blogs and I've resisted for some time--not knowing exactly what should and what should not be included. But, I hit upon some compromise that I thought might work--include the writings and some other basic information and leave out the rest I originally thought it could be posted with a button on the side but that didn't work and so it's a regular and overly long post. I never kept a record of convention papers, book reviews, and instructor's manuals so these are fortunately absent from this list. I've also included just a bit of story behind some of the texts. Of course there's a story behind every book--and every article--but I spare you this history and included only a few notes on the current titles.


Academic Vita

Joseph A. DeVito
Hunter College



I received my BA from Hunter College in 1960 (with a major in speech and a minor in Spanish), my MA from Temple University in 1962 (with a major in speech together with some sociology), and my PhD from the University of Illinois in 1964 (with a major in speech and a minor in linguistics). It was my advisor, Richard Murphy, who persuaded me to write a dissertation combining the insights of speech and linguistics and from that grew my interest in psycholinguistics and so in 1967 and 1968 I spent the summers at the University of Minnesota’s Human Learning Institute studying psycholinguistics and behavioral engineering which was a great experience—being a student with no responsibilities other than to learn.

Teaching History and Courses Taught

After receiving my PhD I returned to my alma mater, Hunter College-in-the-Bronx [which later became Lehman College], to teach. Then I moved to Queens College and later to Hunter, from which I retired from full time teaching—all within the City University of New York. I always thought (and still do) that I’d return to teaching as an adjunct but I became so involved with the textbooks, that I’ve not yet had the time. But, it’s nice to have that option always open.

I taught a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses, though I concentrated on the undergraduate level and mainly on the introductory courses. Among the courses I taught on the undergraduate level are: Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, Small Group Communication, Persuasive Speaking, Persuasion and Attitude Change, Communication Theory, Psychology of Communication, Speech for the Classroom Teacher, Nonverbal Communication, Semantics, General Semantics, Statistics, Psycholinguistics. On the graduate level: Psycholinguistics, Language Acquisition, Semantics, Research Methods, Introduction to Graduate Study, Measurement Studies in Communication, The Nature of Speech, Language, and Communication Systems, Theory and Research in Interpersonal Communication.

Editorial Service

At various times, I served on the editorial boards of Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication Monographs, Communication Education, Communication Quarterly, Journal of Communication, and et cetera: A Review of General Semantics. At various times, I also served as consulting editor to publishers: Random House, Harper & Row, Waveland Press, and HarperCollins. I also served as ETS coordinator of the committee to construct the Dantes Public Speaking Test for the Educational Testing Service.



[A number of journals have changed their names; I use the current journal titles here.]

Comprehension factors in oral and written discourse of skilled communicators. Communication Monographs 32 (1965):124-128.

Levels of abstraction and listenability. Communication Quarterly 13 (1965):12-14.

The encoding of speech and writing. Communication Education 15 (1966):55-60.
Reprinted in Jane Blankenship, ed. Selected readings in speech communication (Belmont, California: Dickenson, 1974), pp. 159- 165.

Psychogrammatical factors in oral and written discourse by skilled communicators. Communication Monographs 33 (1966):73-76.

The ability to select words to convey intended meaning by Thomas E. Finfgeld. Quarterly Journal of Speech 52 (1966):255-258. [with Charles E. Osgood and Richard Murphy]

What is rhetoric? Communication Quarterly 15 (1966):16, 32.

Cloze procedure. Communication Quarterly 15 (1967):31-32.

Learning theory and grading. Communication Education 16 (1967):155-157.

The meaning of psycholinguistics. Communication Quarterly 15 (1967):19-22.

Intended meaning. Quarterly Journal of Speech 53 (1967):167-168. [with Charles E. Osgood and Richard Murphy]

A linguistic analysis of oral and written language. Central States Speech Journal 18 (1967):81-85.

Oral and written style: Directions for research. Southern Speech Communication Journal 33 (1967):37-43.

Style and stylistics: An attempt at definition. Quarterly Journal of Speech 53 (1967):248-255.
Reprinted in Douglas Ehninger, ed., Readings in Contemporary Rhetoric (Glenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman, 1972), pp. 230- 238.

Levels of abstraction in spoken and written language. Journal of Communication 17 (1967):354-361.

The teacher as behavioral engineer. Communication Quarterly 16 (1968):2-5.

Kinesics: Other codes, other channels. Communication Quarterly 16 (1968):29-32.
Reprinted in Nona Childress Dalan and Neil Eskelin, eds., Speaking to communicate: Readings, projects, evaluations. Berkeley, California: McCutchan, 1969), pp. 51-57.

Morphology and style. Quarterly Journal of Speech 54 (1968):159-161.

Communication theory and the field of speech. Reports 9 (1969):9.

How should who teach what? Communication theories and the process of education. Reports 9 (1969):6-7, 12.

Phonetic symbolism and audience perception. Southern Speech Communication Journal 34 (1969):183-193. [with Cj Stevens and Norman Isaacson]

On change and nonchange, resistance and skepticism. Reports 10 (1969):5-6.

Some psycholinguistic aspects of active and passive Sentences. Quarterly Journal of Speech 55 (1969):401-406.

Are theories of stuttering necessary? Central States Speech Journal 20 (1969):170-179.

Speech communication as a behavioral science. Proceedings, Speech Communication Association Summer Conference VI, ed. Malcolm Sillars. New York: Speech Communication Association, 1970, pp. 105-118.

Why dirty words are exciting. Sexology 37 (1971):17-19.

The training of the language teacher or clinician. Language development: The key to learning, ed. Morris Val Jones. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas, 1972, pp. 203-218. [with Mardel Ogilvie]

Some semantics of repetition: An experiment in phonetic symbolism. Journal of Communication 22 (1972):39-47. [With Jean Civikly]

Linguistics and General Semantics: A reappraisal. Research designs in General Semantics, ed. Kenneth Johnson. Washington, D. C.: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, 1974, pp. 185-191.

Psycholinguistics and General Semantics: Some conceptual 'problems' and 'resolutions'. Research designs in General Semantics, ed. Kenneth Johnson. Washington, D. C.: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, 1974, pp. 193-204.

Speech and language acquisition and development: A bibliography. Bibliographical Annual in Speech Communication 3 (1972):1-20.

Relative ease in comprehending yes/no questions. Rhetoric and communication, ed., Jane Blankenship and Herman Stelzner. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1976, pp. 143-154.

Introducing intensional orientation. Teaching General Semantics, 2nd ed., ed. Mary Morain. San Francisco, California: International Society for General Semantics, 1980, pp. 43-47.

Psycholinguistics. American Academic Encyclopedia. Princeton, New Jersey: Arete Publishing Co., 1981.

Educational responsibilities to gay and lesbian students. Gayspeak: Gay male and lesbian communication. New York: Pilgrim Press, 1981, pp. 197-207.

Teaching as relational development. Communicating in college classrooms, ed., Jean Civikly. New directions in teaching and learning. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass, 1986, pp. 51-60.

Interpersonal relationships related in cards and songs. Speech communication teacher: Ideas & strategies for classrooms and activities 1 (Winter 1987): 4.

The ideal relational couple. Speech communication teacher: Ideas & strategies for classrooms and activities 2 (Summer 1988), 9.

Silence and paralanguage as communication. ETC.: A Review of General Semantics 46 (Summer 1989): 153-157.

The author and the reviewer. ETC.: A Review of General Semantics 46 (Winter 1989): 308-311.

The relational communication questionnaire. Speech Association of Minnesota Journal, 16 (1989): 117-123.

Perspectives on nonverbal communication: The how, what and why of nonverbal communication [with Michael Hecht]. The nonverbal communication reader, ed., Joseph A. DeVito and Michael L. Hecht. Prospect Heights, Il.: Waveland Press, 1990, pp. 3-17.

Perspectives on nonverbal communication: Codes, functions, and contexts [with Michael Hecht and Laura Guerrero]. The nonverbal communication reader: Classic and contemporary readings, ed., Laura K. Guerrero, Joseph A. DeVito, and Michael L. Hecht. Prospect Heights, Il: Waveland Press, 1999, pp. 3-18.

Teaching interpersonally. Communication in education, ed., Richard Fiordo. Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Detselig Enterprises Ltd., 1990, pp. 73-80.

The interpersonal communication basic course. In Basic Course Communication Annual 3 (June 1991), ed. Lawrence W. Hugenberg. Boston: American Press, pp. 73-87.

SCREAM before you scream. Etc.: A Review of General Semantics 60 (Spring, 2003): 42-45.

MEDUSA messages. Etc: A Review of General Semantics 60 (Fall, 2003): 241-245.

Access to research [Editorial]. Electronic Journal of Communication 18 (1), 2008.

Conversational coolers and warmers. Etc: A Review of General Semantics 66 (3), 248-253.

How to write a lot: Four Rules. Etc: A Review of General Semantics 67 (2), 164-166.

The Textbook Writer. Etc: A Review of General Semantics 70 (3), 282-287.

[Books, with some personal reflections on the current textbooks]

The Psychology of Speech and Language: An Introduction to Psycholinguistics. New York: Random House, 1970. Reissued by University Press of America, 1981.
     This was my first book, surprising because it was an advanced book for a limited market. It was very well received and probably helped my later books get attention.

Psycholinguistics. Indianapolis, Indiana: Bobbs-Merrill, 1971.

General Semantics: Guide and Workbook. DeLand, Florida: Everett/Edwards, 1971, 1974.

General Semantics (Nine Audio Tapes). DeLand, Florida: Everett/Edwards, 1971.

Communication: Concepts and Processes (Edited). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1971, 1976, 1981.

Language: Concepts and Processes (Edited). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1973.

Articulation and Voice: Effective Communication [With Jill Giattino and T. D. Schon]. Indianapolis, Indiana: Bobbs-Merrill, 1975.

The Interpersonal Communication Book. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1976, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2013, [2016].

  • Chinese Translation: The Interpersonal Communication Book, 7th edition. Taipei, Taiwan: Yang-Chih Book Co., Ltd., 1995.
  • Chinese Edition, The Interpersonal Communication Book, 10th edition. Peking University Press. This book, with the exception of the cover, preface, and toc which are in Mandarin or "Standard Chinese"--the rest of the book is in English and has a note in it that I found interesting: This edition is authorized for sale and distribution in the People's Republic of China exclusively (excluding Hong Kong, Macao SARs and Taiwan). 
  • Chinese Translation: The Interpersonal Communication Book, 12th edition. Pearson.

     The original idea for this book was to present one basic brief “lecture” and an exercise in one class period and so the first edition of this text had 42 “units.” At this time the field of interpersonal communication was fairly amorphous with very little similarity among courses and so a book with lots of individual units made sense to many people who could then pick and choose. The book became a success.
     The book resulted from the way I taught. Because I had serious communication apprehension (and still do in many situations though, strangely enough, my favorite courses to teach were the mass lecture (about 300 students) courses in interpersonal communication and psycholinguistics—and I thoroughly enjoyed teaching statistics to classes of over 100), it was easier for me to distribute exercises and then, while the students were interacting, to insinuate myself into these interactions and to relate what they were doing to the principles and theories of interpersonal communication. After a short time, I had before me a ton of exercises which, together with the explanations and communication background, became the first edition of TICB. Later the exercises were put on the web and in the Instructor’s Manual to make space for increased coverage of theory, research, and skills.
     It was, I’m told, the first text to use gender neutral language—I decided to do it while the book was being copy edited and so one or two non-neutral examples may have slipped in. In a later edition, not sure which one, I introduced Pat and Chris as my gender neutral dyad for examples and illustrations. And I much enjoy seeing that other textbook authors also use these characters.

Human Communication: The Basic Course. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1978, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015.

  • Indonesian Translation: Komunikasi Antarmanusia. Jakarta, Indonesia: Professional Books, 1997.
  • New Zealand Edition (Auckland, New Zealand: Pearson Education New Zealand, 2000).
  • Greek Translation: Human Communication. Ion Publishing, 2004.

     After the first-year success of The Interpersonal Communication Book, the editor asked me to do a hybrid book which became Human Communication. In its first two editions it was called Communicology—a term which various people in the field had proposed but which never caught on. I thought this was a great title but, the publisher thought otherwise; the title didn’t reflect the course and sales representatives were confused about the book, some apparently thinking it was a speech therapy text. And so in the 3rd edition the title was changed to Human Communication: The Basic Course and it was then that the book became successful. The editor was right.

The Elements of Public Speaking. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1994, 1997, 2000.
     The same thing that happened with TICB and HC happened here as well. The editor called and asked if I’d do a public speaking book. The idea was to write a brief book—more like Essential Elements of Public Speaking which I wrote recently—but it turned into a much larger one and each edition got longer and longer—mainly as a result of including additional examples and illustrations that users and reviewers asked for.

The Public Speaking Guide. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.

Studying communication: A learning guide for students. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1995.

Brainstorms: How to think more creatively about communication. . . or about anything else. Boston, Allyn & Bacon, 1996.

The Communication Handbook: A Dictionary. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

The Nonverbal Communication Workbook. Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press, 1989.

The Nonverbal Communication Reader (Edited) [With Michael Hecht]. Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press, 1990. Second Edition, The Nonverbal Communication Reader: Classic and Contemporary Readings (Edited) [with Laura Guerrero and Michael Hecht], 1999.

Messages: Building Interpersonal Communication Skills. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005.

  • French Translation: La communication interpersonnelle: Sophie, Martin, Paul, et les autres. Quebec, Canada: Editions du Renouveau pedagogique, Inc., 2001. 
  • Canadian Editions (Toronto, Canada: Pearson Education, 2001, 2003).

     At around this time there was a renewed emphasis on skill development and there was a need for a brief, more skills-focused text and so in Robert’s Restaurant in Boston (I think it was Robert’s—the one where the Maxwell House commercial was filmed and no one was able to tell that the coffee was instant)—the editors and I agreed to do this brief, skills-focused interpersonal book which became Messages. The first edition was packaged with a great workbook, written by Marylin Kelly. In subsequent editions, each book became independent.

The interpersonal challenge: A game to accompany The Interpersonal Communication Book and Messages: Building Interpersonal Communication Skills. New York: HarperCollins, 1992, 1995, 1998.

Essentials of Human Communication. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2013.

  • French Translation: Les fondements de la communication humaine. Quebec, Canada: Gaetan Morin Editeur, 1993.
  • Czech Translation: Zaklady mezilidske komunikace. Praha, Czech Republic: Grada Publishing, 1999, 2008.
  • Chinese Translation: Essentials of Human Communication. Pro-Ed Publishing Co., 2006.

     As Human Communication: The Basic Course grew in size and depth, there was a need for a more skills-oriented text (much like in the interpersonal communication course) and so I wrote Essentials of Human Communication. The distinctive feature of the 1st edition was that the margins were filled with quotations and discussion questions. Although clearly overdone in this first edition, the book became noticed and became successful as a text for the hybrid course emphasizing skills.

The Interpersonal Communication Reader (Edited). Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2002.
      This book was created when I eliminated the articles in Messages. I never felt that one article per chapter was sufficient and so I thought a short collection of readings—all focused on skills—would fill this need for additional readings more effectively.

The Essential Elements of Public Speaking. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015.
      At around this time, instructors were asking for a brief public speaking book and I felt that it was time to drastically change the public speaking book—it was getting too long and too detailed for an introductory course—but not lose its identity. And so I changed the title to include the word “essential” and condensed the material to some 300 pages.

Interviewing and Human Communication. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2005.
     This pamphlet is a somewhat enlarged version of the interviewing chapter from Essentials of Human Communication. Some courses include interviewing and some don’t and so doing this chapter as a separate pamphlet which could be shrink wrapped with the text when desired seemed a logical solution. This is one of the unresolved issues in the hybrid course. I suspect that most people believe that interviewing should be a part of this course but there simply isn’t time for it. Including the skills of interviewing in a basic course is extremely time consuming. The great thing about this separation was that it allowed me additional pages in both Essentials and in Human Communication to expand on the theories and research and skills from other areas of communication.

The Interviewing Guidebook. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2008, 2010.
     This is an expanded version of Interviewing and Human Communication.

Interpersonal Messages: Communication and Relationship Skills. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2008, 2011, 2013.
  • French translation: La Communication Interpersonnelle. Quebec, Canada: Editions du Renoveau Pedagogique, Inc., 2008.
     This book was originally going to be a revision of Messages but so much was changed that it was felt by all that it should be treated as a first edition.

50 Communication Strategies. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2012.
     This has got to be the strangest book I ever published. iUniverse is a subsidy publisher and I paid to have this book printed and for its accompanying website (www.50communicationstrategies.com). My reason for doing this was simply that I didn't want to write a proposal or get an agent--I just wanted to write the book. Basically, it covers 50 skills that we talk about in our communication courses. Each skill is given its own chapter where I explain the nature of the concept (e.g., immediacy, empathy, apologies) and then provide a bullet list of specific behaviors for achieving/demonstrating each skill.

The Nonverbal Communication Book. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt [2014].
     This book is really a new nonverbal book, rather than a revision of my The Nonverbal Communication Workbook, published in 1989. The unique thing about this book is that the text is broken up by frequent exercises (60 exercises in all). So, after studying a short section of some aspect of nonverbal communication, the student is asked to demonstrate knowledge, application, and/or problem solving skills. In many ways this book duplicates the way I wrote the first edition of The Interpersonal Communication Book (short "units" followed by an exercise).

Cultural requirement

Thought many would find this interesting. News and Events, Press Releases: Goucher College Launches Unprecedented Undergraduate Study-Abroad Requirement


Small talk and money

A book I mentioned in an earlier post (Debra Fine’s Small Talk) has received a neat article from USA Today (October 17, 2005, p. 7B)—in, of all places, the Money Bookshelf column. Highlighted by this article are the behaviors that can kill a conversation: the one-upper, the monopolizer, the interrupter, and the adviser.

The cost of textbooks

There’s an interesting item about textbooks in Morreale’s Mailbag—my favorite feature in Spectra (it’s in the current issue, October 2005). Apparently, the price of textbooks has risen at a rate double that of inflation over the last 20 years. The reason? Supplementary items like computer software have driven up the cost.

Culture and Colors

I just got an e-mail from my editor’s assistant saying that a user of TICB from Ghana says that blue is not the color of joy—as I say in the table on culture and color. I’ll have to check other sources to investigate this further. But, this e-mail led me to think that it would be interesting—if you’re teaching a culturally diverse class—to ask students about the meanings of color in their cultures and then compare them with the table in the text and the sources cited.



If you haven’t yet assigned watching Supernanny for its implications for communication and especially listening, give it a try. Invariably, supernanny cuts through the miscommunication, establishes new communication rules, and, in general, resolves some (maybe, most) of the family’s interaction problems. It looks a lot easier than it is but then so do person- and home-makeovers. One approach would be to analyze Supernanny’s recommendations for listening in terms of its being empathic or objective, nonjudgmental or critical, surface or depth, and active or inactive. Another approach would be to analyze the family’s communication rules before and after Supernanny’s visit.

The (dis) pleasure of language

In a book review in Sunday’s New York Times humorist P. J. O’Rourke gives a very unhumorous review of Leslie Savan’s Slam Dunks and No-Brainers: Language in your life, the media, business, politics, and like, whatever (Knopf). Basically, his argument is that Savin’s approach takes the pleasure out of language—an interesting perspective.


Interesting Quiz

Here's a pop quiz that students are sure to be interested in. It's by Pepper Schwartz, one of the most influential relationship researchers.


Ask Yourself

An edited version of the following items (some were deleted and some new ones were added) will appear in the margins of the next edition of TICB but can be used with Messages or with the early chapters in Human Communication. These items present students with interpersonal communication choice points that are related to the chapter content and, most important, ask them to examine possible interpersonal communication choices, to assess potential consequences, and ultimately to make their own interpersonal choices. I’ve called these items “Ask Yourself.”
I had a few goals in mind in designing this feature (which I also used in Essentials of Human Communication and want to make a feature in all my books): to demonstrate that the material talked about in the text is directly relevant to the student’s life, to demonstrate that the text and the study of interpersonal communication offer some pretty good suggestions as to what can be done in a variety of situations, to offer suggestions for classroom discussion (students are sure to come up with very different ways of handling each of the situations which should prove interesting), and to encourage active reading, active involvement with the material discussed in the text—it’s as close to interactional as I can come (I think).

Chapter 1 (Universals of Interpersonal Communication)
ASK YOURSELF. Personalizing the Study of Interpersonal Communication
Throughout this text you’ll find marginal items labeled “Ask Yourself,” which depict specific interpersonal situations that call for some kind of communication choice. These items are designed to encourage you to stop for a moment and ask yourself how this material applies to you, what options for communication do you have in these situations, and what you would do in the situation. Allow the situations depicted here to suggest alternative situations, perhaps even actual ones in which you’ve participated, and ask yourself what you might do in these other situations as well.

ASK YOURSELF. Lessening the Negative Impact
You write a gossipy e-mail about Ellen (revealing things that you promised to keep secret) to your mutual friend Elle but inadvertently send it to Ellen herself. Ask yourself: What options do you have to correct this problem? What seems your best option?

ASK YOURSELF. Making Relationships Exclusive
You’ve been dating someone for the last several months—almost every weekend—and you want to make the relationship exclusive. Ask yourself: What options do you have available to achieve this goal? What options would work best for you?

ASK YOURSELF. Reducing Relationship Ambiguity
You’ve gone out with this person for several months and want to know where this relationship is going. You need to reduce your ambiguity about the future of the relationship and discover your partner’s level of commitment. But, you don’t want to scare your partner either. Ask yourself: What are some things you can say or do to find answers to your very legitimate questions?

ASK YOURSELF. Communicating an Image
At work, a new position is opening and you want it. Your immediate supervisor is likely the one to make the final decision. Ask yourself: What can you do to help secure this new position?

ASK YOURSELF. Strengthening Similarities
You’re dating this person you really like but you are both so different—in values, politics, religion, and just about everything else; in fact, you’re almost direct opposites. But, you enjoy each other more than you do with any other person. Ask yourself: What can you do to encourage greater similarity while not losing the excitement created by the differences?

Chapter 2 (Culture)
ASK YOURSELF. Misusing Linguistic Privilege
You enter a group of racially similar people using terms normally considered negative to refer to themselves. Trying to be one of the group you too use such terms only to be met with extremely negative nonverbal feedback. Ask yourself: What are some things you might say to lessen this negative reaction and to let the group know that you don’t normally use such racial terms?

ASK YOURSELF. Violating Cultural Norms
You’re invited to a party by people you recently met at school. Having lots of money yourself and not knowing much about anyone else, you buy a really expensive gift. As the gifts are being opened you notice that everyone gave very inexpensive gifts—a photograph, a book, a scented candle. Your gift is next. Ask yourself: What can you do to lessen what is sure to seem very strange to everyone else?

ASK YOURSELF. Putting Your Foot in Your Mouth
At work you tell a race-oriented joke only to discover that it was resented and clearly violated the organizational norms for polite and unbiased talk. Ask yourself: What might you say to make this situation a little less awkward and potentially damaging to your work experience?

ASK YOURSELF. Clashing Cultural Rules
Your friend is pressed for time and asks you to do the statistical analyses for a term project. Your first impulse is to say yes since in your culture, it would be extremely impolite to refuse someone you’ve known for so long a favor. Yet, you’re aware that this is considered unethical at colleges in the United States. Ask yourself: What might you say that would enable you to help your friend but not involve behavior that would be considered deceitful and may be severely punished?

Chapter 3 (Self)
ASK YOURSELF. Understanding Rejection (68, end of self-awareness)
You’ve ask several different people at school for a date and so far all you got were rejections. Something’s wrong; you’re not that bad to deserve so many rejections. Ask yourself: What might you do to gain insight into the possible reasons for the rejections?

ASK YOURSELF. Refusing to Self-Disclose
You’ve dated this person for three or four times and each time you’re pressured to self-disclosure your past experiences and personal information you’re just not ready to talk about at least not at this early stage of the relationship. Ask yourself: What are some of the things you can say or do to resist this pressure to self-disclose? What might you say to discourage further requests that you reveal yourself?

ASK YOURSELF. Presenting Yourself
At an interview you’re asked about your competence with Microsoft Excel. In truth you have no competence but you are extremely fast in learning computer programs and Excel should be no exception. Ask yourself: What might you say to convince the interviewer that you’re the person to hire?

Chapter 4 (Perception)
ASK YOURSELF. Reversing First Impressions
On your first day at work, you tried too hard and came off as a complete fool—trying to make everything anyone said into a joke. This is not who you really are. You want to change this first negative and false perception. Ask yourself: What can you do to undo (or minimize or redirect) this initial perception?

ASK YOURSELF. Overattributing
Your friends seem to (over)attribute everything you do to your being deaf. You need to set them straight. Ask yourself: What can you say to make them realize that being deaf does not influence everything you do or say?

ASK YOURSELF. Stereotyping
Your partner is wonderful except for being blinded by stereotypes, for believing that all members of a group are the same. All athletes, all lawyers, all gay men are seen as the same. Ask yourself: What can you do help your partner see the diversity within groups and therefore profit from the individuality each person offers?

ASK YOURSELF. Explaining Yourself
You’ve finally decided to dye your hair; it was making you look too old, you thought. At any rate, it came out horrendous; it’s a bad hair day to the Nth degree. At work, your colleagues look strangely at you, but say nothing. Ask yourself: What might you say that would make you feel less like the idiot you feel now?

Chapter 5 (Listening)
ASK YOURSELF. Combating Homophobic Language
At work, homophobic language is rampant in small groups but totally absent in formal meetings. You want to point out this hypocrisy but don’t want to make enemies or having people think you’re going to make legal problems for them.
Ask yourself: What options do you have for accomplishing what you want to without incurring any negative reactions?

ASK YOURSELF. Giving Listening Cues
Repeatedly you’re asked by the speaker if he or she is getting through or making sense. It seems they doubt that I’m listening. But, usually at least, I am. Ask yourself: What might I do to show people I’m listening to them and interested in what they’re saying?

ASK YOURSELF. Respecting Communication Norms
As a gift for your three roommates, you buy them each a lottery ticket. Big surprise: one of them wins (over $250,000) but says nothing beyond “thank you,” nothing about sharing the winnings or even taking you out to dinner. None of the other roommates has said anything. Ask yourself: What might you do to get some understanding and closure on this without wrecking the friendships?

ASK YOURSELF. Listening Actively
Your six year old son comes home from school crying, saying his new teacher hates him and he hates her and that he doesn’t want to ever go back to school. Ask yourself: Instead of saying, “What did you do wrong?” or some similar expression, you decide to use active listening. What do you say?

ASK YOURSELF. Giving Anti-Listening Cues
One of your friends is a story teller; he tells endless stories—about things that happened a long time ago that he finds funny (though no one else does). You just can’t deal with this any longer. Ask yourself: What can you do to get yourself out of these situations?

Chapter 6 (Universals of Verbal and Nonverbal Messages)
ASK YOURSELF. Packaging Messages
You’re often reacted to with notions of disbelief or with questions such as Do you mean that? Did that really happen? You suspect that you may not be packaging your messages appropriately. Ask yourself: First, what might you be doing to present contradictory messages? Second, how you can more appropriately integrate your verbal and nonverbal messages to produce consistent meanings?

ASK YOURSELF. Increasing Directness
You’ve been told that you need to become more direct in your communication, especially if you’re to be promoted to a managerial position. Ask yourself: What might you do to make yourself more direct without seeming to be overly bossy or dogmatic?

A good friend asks you to lie; it’s a small lie—signing a petition saying you will vote for a particular candidate when you really won’t. You really don’t want to lie but neither do you want to disappoint your friend. Ask Yourself: What might you say to make it easier for you to decline to lie? What one thing do you think would work best?

ASK YOURSELF. Projecting Confidence
You’re joining a new company and want to project the image of a truly confident (but not cocky) analyst. Ask yourself: What kinds of verbal and nonverbal messages will help you project this image?

ASK YOURSELF. Talking Assertively
Everyone tells you that you are unassertive and that that is the reason why you’ve been passed over for raises and promotion; you’re not perceived to have leadership potential. Ask yourself: What might you do to begin to do to make your communication more assertive?

ASK YOURSELF. Confronting a Lie
You ask about the previous night’s whereabouts of your romantic partner of two years and are told something you know beyond any doubt to be false. You don’t want to break up the relationship over this but you do want the truth and an opportunity to resolve the problems that contributed to this situation. Ask yourself: What are some of the things you might say to achieve your purposes? What are some types of messages you’d want to avoid?

ASK YOURSELF. Rejecting Directly
A colleague at work continues to ask you out on a date but you’re just not interested. You’ve used every polite excuse in the book and now feel you have to be more direct and more honest. Ask yourself: What ways can you express your feelings to achieve your goal and yet not alienate or insult your colleague?

Chapter 7 (Verbal Messages)
ASK YOURSELF. Criticizing
You’re supervising a group of five interns who have been doing just about nothing. You don’t want to discourage them or criticize them too harshly but at the same time you have to get them to do some work. Ask yourself: What are some of the things you can say to help turn this group around? What are some of the things you should probably avoid saying?

ASK YOURSELF. Discouraging Disconfirmation
For the last several months you’ve noticed how disconfirming your neighbors are toward their pre-teen children; it seems the children can never do anything to their satisfaction. Ask yourself: What are some of the things you might say (if you do decide to get involved) to make your neighbors more aware of their communication patterns and the possible negative effect these might have on their children?

ASK YOURSELF. Discovering Ethnocentricity
You’ve been dating this wonderful person for the last few months but increasingly are discovering that your “ideal” partner is extremely ethnocentric and sees little value in other religions, other races, other nationalities. Ask yourself: What are some things you can do to educate your possible life partner?

ASK YOURSELF. Using Inappropriate Cultural Identifiers
Your parents use cultural identifiers that would be considered inappropriate among most social groups—not because of prejudice but mainly through ignorance and habit. You want to change these patterns. Ask yourself: What kinds of messages might help you achieve your goal? What kinds of messages would you want to avoid?

ASK YOURSELF. Apologizing
You borrowed a friend’s car and got into an accident and, to make matters worse, it was totally your fault. Ask yourself: What might you say that would help you explain the situation, alleviate any anxiety your friend will have over the accident, and pave the way for your asking to borrow the car again next week for the most important date of your life?

Chapter 8 (Nonverbal Messages)
Your supervisor is an extremely touchy person and touches just about everyone. You don’t like it and want it to stop—at least as far as you’re concerned. Ask yourself: What are some of the things you can do to help eliminate this unwanted touching?

ASK YOURSELF. Inviting and Discouraging Conversation
Sometimes you want to encourage people to come into your office and chat and at other times you want to be left alone. Ask yourself: What might you do nonverbally to achieve each goal?

Your colleague in the next cubicle wears extremely strong cologne that you find horrendous. You can’t continue smelling this horrible scent any longer. Ask yourself: What options do you have to correct this situation? What option seems the most logical to try first?

ASK YOURSELF. Demonstrating Credibility
At work people just don’t attribute any credibility to you, although you’re probably as competent as anyone else. You need to increase the credibility cues you give off. Ask yourself: What nonverbal cues communicate competence and ability? How might you begin to integrate these into your own communication?

ASK YOURSELF. Remaining Silent
(w/interpersonal silence)
Your college roommate has developed a small business selling term papers and uses your jointly owned computer to store them. Though you’ve remained silent about this for some time, you’ve become increasingly uncomfortable about this and want to distance yourself from what you feel is unethical. Ask yourself: What might you say to distance yourself from this operation? What might you say to severe your connection entirely from this practice?

ASK YOURSELF. Confronting a Misconception
You’ve been doing exceptionally well in English—after two previous very undistinguished semesters. In a conference on you’re “A” paper, the instructor implies very indirectly that your paper look plagiarized. You definitely did not plagiarize the paper and you want that made clear. Ask yourself: What are some of the ways you can make this clear without appearing to be guilty for protesting too much?

ASK YOURSELF. Criticizing with Kindness
A close friend is going to an important job interview dressed totally inappropriately and asks “How do I look?” Ask yourself: What are some of the things you can say to your friend to help with the interview presentation and also to bolster your friend’s self-esteem?

Chapter 9 (Conversation)
ASK YOURSELF. Prefacing to Extremes
One of your friends who you talk to on the phone fairly regularly seems to take phatic communication to a new level—the preface is so long that you just want to get off the phone and frequently you make excuses to do just that. Ask yourself: What are some of the things you can do to change this communication pattern?

ASK YOURSELF. Chatting for Free
A casual friend, who has a cell phone with free unlimited long distance calling, now calls you several times a week just to chat about nothing you’re really interested in. You don’t want to offend this person or kill the friendship but you don’t want to spend a few hours a week on the phone. Ask yourself: What can you do to eliminate these calls or perhaps lessen their frequency and length?

ASK YOURSELF. Interrupting
You’re supervising a group of six working to revise your college website. But one member interrupts so much that other members have simply stopped contributing. It’s become a one-person group and you can’t have this. Ask yourself: What are some of the things that you might say to correct this situation without coming off as the bossy supervisor?

ASK YOURSELF. Expressing Yourself
People have told you that they can never tell what you’re thinking. While you think this may well be an asset you also want to have the ability to allow what you’re thinking and feeling to be clear to others. Ask yourself: What might you do to make yourself more expressive in, say, work relationships? In first meeting another person? In meeting someone you may easily develop feelings for?

Chapter 10 (Universals of Interpersonal Relationships)
ASK YOURSELF. Coming Clean
You’re going to meet someone you’ve only communicated with online and you’re going to have to admit that you lied about your age, weight, and relationship history. Ask yourself: What do you have to come clean with most immediately? What are your best options for introducing these “cleansing” messages?

ASK YOURSELF. Ending the Relationship
You want to break up your 8-month romantic relationship and still remain friends.
Ask yourself: What are the possible contexts in which you might do this? What types of things can you say that might help you accomplish your dual goal?

ASK YOURSELF. Confronting Fear of Risk
You’re very much in love but your partner—who also loves you very much—is high risk-aversive and fearful of increasing relationship intimacy. Ask yourself: What might you say to make increased intimacy less risky for your partner? Ask also, what ethical obligations do you have in this type of communication?

ASK YOURSELF. Refusing a Gift Positively
You’re becoming friendly with a coworker who you think you might like to date. Without any warning, your coworker gives you a very intimate gift which you think is too much, too soon. Ask yourself: What might you say to refuse the gift but not close off possibilities to begin dating?

ASK YOURSELF. Meeting the Parents
You’re dating some one from a very different culture and have been invited to meet the parents and have a traditional ethnic dinner. Ask yourself: What might you do to make this potentially difficult situation go smoothly?

ASK YOURSELF. Moving through Relationship Stages
Your recent romantic partner seems to be moving too fast for your liking. You want to take things a lot slower yet you don’t want to turn this person off; this may be The One. Ask yourself: What might you say (and where might you say it) to get your partner to proceed more slowly?

ASK YOURSELF. Asking THE Question
You’re so in love that you can’t see straight. You have to know if your partner feels the same way. Ask yourself: How might you secure the information you want?

Chapter 11 (Interpersonal Relationships: Growth and Deterioration)
ASK YOURSELF. Projecting an Image
You’re entering a new job and want to be perceived as likeable and friendly but also serious and conscientious. Ask yourself: What types of messages which help you achieve your dual goal? Which might you try first?

ASK YOURSELF. Achieving Equity
After thinking about equity, you realize that you put in a lot more effort into the relationship (you pay much more than half the costs) than your partner. You want this imbalanced to be corrected. Ask yourself: What might you say to help to make the relationship more equitable?

ASK YOURSELF. Complaining
Your partner complains constantly; regardless of what the situation, your partner has a complaint. It’s becoming painful to listen to this and you want to stop it. Ask yourself: What are some of the things you might do to help lessen these complaints? Alternatively, consider what you might be doing to encourage these complaints and therefore what you might stop doing?

ASK YOURSELF. Leaving the Group
You’ve decided to quite your job after 10 years; you’re just fed up with the job and everyone you work with. You want to exit gracefully but also without a lot of phony good-byes. Ask yourself: What are some things you might say to help you achieve this goal?

Chapter 12 (Friendship, Love, Family, and Workplace)
ASK YOURSELF. Developing Friendships
You seem to have few friends, at least as compared with people you observe and see in television sitcoms. You’d like to increase your circle of friends. Ask yourself: What kinds of messages might contribute to the development of friendships? What messages would work against the establishment of friendships?

ASK YOURSELF. Discovering Personal Information
You’re becoming romantically involved with someone at work but before this relationship goes any further, you want to know about this person’s HIV status and safe sex practices. Ask yourself: What are some of the things that you might say that will get you truthful information but at the same time not create a rift in the relationship.

ASK YOURSELF. Confronting a Friend
You’re one of five close friends who hang out together. One of these is always late; no matter what the occasion, this person is from 10 minutes to 2 hours late. Everyone is fed up but no one says anything. Ask yourself: What might you say to the person who is always late to deal with this problem? What might you say to the other friends?

ASK YOURSELF. Asking a Favor
You need to borrow $200 from your roommate and you have no idea of when you’ll be able to pay it back. Ask yourself: What are some of the ways you might ask for this loan and at the same time not put your roommate into an awkward and uncomfortable situation?

ASK YOURSELF. Establishing Family Communication Rules
You hope to begin your family in the very near future and this notion of family communication rules seems intriguing and you begin to wonder what types of rules you’d like to see in your own soon-to-be family. Ask yourself: What goals do you want to achieve in your family communication? What rules would best contribute to achieving these goals? What rules would work against these goals?

ASK YOURSELF. Apologizing
You’ve been very successful in the Stock Market and so when you got the best tip ever, you shared it with three of your colleagues at work. Unfortunately, the stock tanked, your colleagues lost several thousand dollars each, and the situation at work is uncomfortable at best. Ask yourself: What might you say to these colleagues to reduce the tension and get things back to the way they were?

Chapter 13 (Conflict)
ASK YOURSELF. Talking Aggressively
Your partner is becoming more and more verbally aggressive and you’re having trouble with this new communication pattern. You want your partner to realize that this way of communicating is not productive and may ultimately destroy the relationship. Ask yourself: What options do you have for trying to lessen or even eliminate this verbal aggressiveness?

ASK YOURSELF. Avoiding Conflict
Your work team members all seem to have the same conflict style: avoidance. When alternatives are discussed or there is some kind of disagreement, they refuse to argue for one or the other or even to participate in the discussion. You need spirited discussion and honest debate if your team is going to come up with appropriate solutions. Ask yourself: What are some of the things you can do to change this pattern of communication? Which would you try first?

ASK YOURSELF. Confronting a Problem
Your neighbor never puts out the garbage in time for pickup and so the garbage—often broken into by stray animals—remains until the next pickup. You’re fed up with the rodents the garbage draws, the smell, and the horrible appearance. Ask yourself: What might you say to stop this problem and yet not have your next door neighbor hate you?

ASK YOURSELF. Escalating to Relationship Conflict
Your own interpersonal conflicts often start out as content conflicts but quickly degenerate into relationship conflicts and that’s when things get ugly. Ask yourself: What types of things might you do to keep the conflict and its resolution focused on the content and not become relational?

Chapter 14 (Power)
ASK YOURSELF. Harassing Behavior
You notice that your colleague at work is being sexually harassed by a supervisor but says nothing. You bristle inside each time you see this happen. Ask yourself: What are some of things you can do (if you think you should do anything, that is) that might help end this harassment?

ASK YOURSELF. Losing Relationship Power
After reading about the principle of less interest, you realize that you’re the person with the greater interest in preserving the relationship and that’s the reason you have little power in your relationship. You’re not happy with this imbalance in power. Ask yourself: What can you do (or do you think nothing can be done) to redress this lop sided power imbalance?

ASK YOURSELF. Asking for a Date
You decide to ask the most popular person on campus for a date—the worse that could happen, you figure, is that you’ll be rejected. Ask yourself: What options do you have for asking for this date (consider, for example, the types of dates you might propose, the channels for communicating your desire for a date, the actual messages you’d use in asking for a date)? What option would you be most likely to select?

ASK YOURSELF. Confronting Power Plays
At work, one of your colleagues uses the power play of “yougottobekidding,” regardless of what you say. In one form or another, this colleague makes whatever you say appear inappropriate, unusable, or ill-conceived. Ask yourself: How might you phrase a cooperative response to help put an end to this pattern of unfair communication?

ASK YOURSELF. Explaining an Awkward Situation
You’re at your boss’s house for dinner and are severe shrimp which makes you violently ill. Ask yourself: What can you say to explain the situation and at the same time to not make your boss feel bad?

ASK YOURSELF. Taking a Position
Your close friend John is from a high power distance culture and can’t get himself to participate in class discussions especially those that involve arguing for different points of view. As a result John risks getting an extremely low grade in the course. Ask yourself: What can you say that might help John (or the instructor)?

ASK YOURSELF. Lowering Self-Esteem
My brother has entered a relationship with someone who constantly puts him down and has lowered his self-esteem to the point where he has no self-confidence. If this continues you fear your brother may again experience severe bouts of depression. Ask yourself: What options do you have for dealing with this problem? What, if anything, would you do?


Speaking Interpersonal-E

These items all deal with the similarities and differences between face-to-face and computer-mediated-communication and will appear in a somewhat edited form (some items were deleted, some new ones were added) in the margins of the next edition of TICB—the existing “Web Exploration” and “Try It!” items will be deleted. I’m calling them Speaking Interpersonal-E. Just thought you might find these useful.

Chapter 1. Universals of Interpersonal Communication
Computer-Mediated Communication
Throughout this text you’ll find marginal items labeled “Speaking Interpersonal-E” which draw your attention to the uniqueness of computer-mediated communication as well as to its similarities and differences with face-to-face communication. A definition from TheFreeDictionary.com will serve us well to begin: “Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is any form of communication between two or more individual people who interact and/or influence each other via separate computers” and generally refers to “e-mail, video, audio or text conferencing, bulletin boards, listservs, instant messaging, and multi-player video games.”

Gender Differences
Whether face-to-face or online, men seem to communicate more for information, to play, and to relax while women seem to communicate more for relational and expressive purposes and focus more on personal and domestic topics (Shaw & Grant, 2002; Colley, Todd, Bland, Holmes, Khanom, & Pike, 2004; Leung, 2001). Do you observe these gender differences?

If you want an easy way to create a presence for yourself on the web consider a personal blog—“a web application which contains periodic, reverse chronologically ordered posts on a common webpage” and coined as a combination of “web” and “log” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog). Blog hosts such as Blogger (www.blogger.com) enable you to do this very easily.

Access for Persons with Disabilities
Persons with impaired vision have much greater difficulty accessing information through print but computers are making it a lot easier (Williamson, Wright, Schauder, & Bow, 2001). In what specific ways might computer mediated communication help the visually impaired?

Spam and Spim
Just as spam—unwanted e-mail—have intruded into your e-mail, spim—essentially spam except that it comes through in instant messaging, is likewise adding noise to your computer-medicated communications (searchMobileComputer.com, smallbusinesscomputing.com). How might you use spim (also written spIM) ethically and without unwanted intrusiveness to get people to visit your website? Would you support a “don’t spam/spim” list on the analogy of the “don’t call” list that you can put your name on to reduce or eliminate telemarketing phone calls?

Chapter 2. Culture in Interpersonal Communication
If you want to understand a file written in a foreign language or translate a word or phrase, Google may be able to help. Go to Google’s home page (www.google.com) and explore the relevant information under Language Tools.

Loneliness and the Computer
One study finds that lonely people are more likely to use the Internet to obtain emotional support than are those who are not lonely. Further, lonely people are more satisfied with their online relationships than are those who are not lonely (Moahan-Martin & Schumacher, 2003). How would you explain the reasons for these findings?

You’re more likely to help someone who is similar in race, attitude, and general appearance. Even the same first name is significant. For example, when an e-mail (asking receivers to fill out surveys of their food habits) identified the sender as one with the same name as the receiver, there was a greater willingness to comply with the request (Gueguen, 2003). Why do you think people do this? Do you do this?

People who interact in online political discussions see themselves to be interacting with people very different from themselves, Yes, and contrary to the research showing that we communicate most with people we perceive as similar to ourselves, they enjoy this diversity of people and differences of opinions (Stromer-Galley, 2003). Is this true of your own experiences in online discussions?

Chapter 3. The Self in Interpersonal Communication
Some research claims that shy people communicate with less anxiety on the Internet than in face-to-face situations (cf. Scealy, Phillips, & Stevenson, 2002; Stritzke, Nguyen, Durkin, 2004). Do you think that shy people experience different reactions and communicate differently in face-to-face and in computer mediated situations? In what way? Why?

Self-disclosure in computer mediated communication
Some research indicates that self-disclosure occurs more quickly and at higher levels of intimacy online than in face-to-face situations (Joinson, 2001; Levine, 2000). Other research finds that people experience greater closeness and self-disclosure in face-to-face groups than in Internet chat groups (Mallen, Day, & Green, 2003). What has been your experience with self-disclosure in online and face-to-face situations?

Uses and Gratifications
One study identified seven gratifications you derive from online communication: being in a virtual community, seeking information, aesthetic experience, financial compensation, diversion, personal status, and maintaining relationships (Song, LaRose, Eastin, &Lin, 2004). How would you describe the gratifications you receive from online communication?

Communicating Anonymously
When you browse the internet, the websites you visit can collect information on you. But, you can surf the Net without disclosing your identity if you purchase additional services that allow you to receive Internet communication through an anonymous server. Although you may not have a need for this kind of anonymity now, can you envision situations in the future where this might be useful to you?

Cookies—small files that keep track of the sites you visited and generally make surfing the web more efficient—also collect information on your computer behavior which you may not want anyone to know about. You can easily delete cookies by going to Tools/Internet Options/General Tab/Settings/View Files and click on the cookie files you want to delete.

Beware the Trojan Horse
When you tell people about yourself, say, in chat rooms, you’re revealing information about yourself that an enterprising hacker, with some Trojan horse programs—“a malicious program that is disguised as legitimate software” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog) can use to discover further information and use it in unethical ways (Brandt, 2004). What precautions do you take to prevent such things from happening?

Chapter 4. Perception in Interpersonal Communication
Primacy and Recency Online
How would you explain the operation of primacy and recency in online communication? Which seems the more important in influencing your perceptions of another person—their earliest messages or their more recent messages?

Online Uncertainty
What kinds of uncertainty might you have with an online relationship partner that you wouldn’t have in a face-to-face relationship?

People also make judgments of you on the basis of your web page or blog. What types of web design elements do you think would lead people to form a favorable impression of you, solely on the basis of your web page. Visit one of the web pages of an instructor at your college who you do not know. What impressions of this instructor do you get from the website? What specific website cues do you use to form these impressions?

Online dating
According to a New York Times survey, online dating is losing its stigma as a place for losers (June 29, 2003, p. A1). Why do you think perceptions are changing in the direction of greater acceptance of online relationships?

Third Person Effect
Consistent with the research on the third person effect are the findings that most people believe Internet pornography has less of a negative effect on themselves than on others (Lo & Wei, 2002). What implications does this finding have for the attitudes people have about Internet pornography?

Perceptual Accuracy
How would you describe your own perceptual accuracy in face-to-face versus online relationships? What perceptual cues do you use in each situation?

Chapter 5. Listening in Interpersonal Communication
Limited Storage
There’s no limit to your brain’s long-term memory but there is limited storage space on your computer and the less free space there is, the longer it takes to load web pages. So, if you want to increase the speed for loading web pages, close programs you don’t need, whether they’re visible or operating in the background

Internet Noise
Spam and pop-ups are visual noise and, like any kind of noise, interfere with your receiving the messages you want to receive. Check out the ways your ISP allows you to block unwanted messages. It will help you attend to the desired messages.

Cell Phone Annoyances
One researcher has argued that listening to the cell phone conversations of others is particularly annoying because you can only hear one side of the conversation; cell phone conversations were rated as more intrusive than two people talking face to face (Monk, Fellas, & Ley, 2004). Do you find the cell phone conversations of people near you on a bus or in a store annoying, perhaps for the reason given here?

Chapter 6. Universals of Verbal and Nonverbal Messages
One way of communicating more information in less time is to use abbreviations which e-mail users have brought to a new level. Among the more popular are: AFAIK, AISI, BTW, OTOH, IMHO, BG, IAC, LOL, and CM. Check out the numerous websites that identify these and others.

Cell Phone Etiquette
A survey of cell phone users found that more people will more likely turn off their cell phones when entering a church or hospital than a retail store, for example (www.cellular-news.com/story/10000.shtml, posted 28-October-03, accessed September 10, 2004). Where are you most likely to turn off your cell phone? In what public situations are you likely to leave it on?

Increasing Information Load
Messages vary in the information they carry. If you want to increase the amount of information you can examine in a specific amount of time, you might want to set up your web browser to be graphics free. Do this by going to Tools/Internet Options/Advanced Tab/Multimedia Options and delete the check marks next to those items you want to eliminate—at least for now.

How would you describe the level of directness you use when talking face-to-face versus the level you use in e-mail and chat rooms? If you do notice differences, to what do you attribute them?

Chapter 7. Verbal Messages
Low Order Abstraction
In much the same way that you use specific terms to direct your face-to-face listeners’ attention to exactly what you want them to focus on, you also use specific terms to direct the search engine to narrow its focus to (ideally) just those items you want to access.

Instant Messenger
Among the values of Instant Messaging—“instant text communication between two or more people through a network such as the Internet” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki) –is that it occurs in real time, unlike e-mail where the message sending and the message receiving can be separated by varied amounts of time. What other values do you see for Instant Messaging?

Message Surveillance
How do you feel about an employer’s monitoring your electronic messages, your e-mail, listservs, and websites that you use on the job (Miller & Weckert, 2000)? How do you feel about employer surveillance in general?

Chapter 8. Nonverbal Messages
When you have lots to communicate in a short time, the best you can do while speaking is to increase your rate. When you have a lot to communicate electronically, you can significantly compress your files to reduce the time they take to send and receive and to reduce the amount of storage space they take up. For instructions on how to do this, see www.winzip.com.

Adjusting Volume
Much as you have a preference for a certain volume of speech, you probably also have a preference for the size of text with which you’re most comfortable. You can easily adjust the text size by going to View/Text Size/ and select your desired text size.

Online Immediacy
In what ways might you communicate immediacy online—in your chats and e-mail messages?

Chapter 9. Messages and Conversation
Gender Differences
In the mid-1990’s men used the Internet much more than women and although the differences are lessening, women still remain less frequent users and are less intense users than men (Ono & Zavodny, 2003). Do you find gender differences in online communication? How would you describe them?

Conversation Transcripts
In most cases, you really don’t want to save transcripts of conversations but in certain cases you might—e.g., you do an online interview with a famous person or you arrange to schedule a variety of activities and you want to be able to recall them exactly. In such cases, software is available to enable you to accomplish this. Check out the cost and the applications of this type of software should you want to save conversations verbatim. Or, in some cases, you could select, copy, and paste the conversation into a word processing file.

Turn-taking and Empowerment
A study of Thai women shows that females participate in chat discussions more than males. Women are also responded to more than are males by both males and females. Despite the fact that these women live in a male dominated society, they are quite dominant and empowered on the Internet (Panyametheekul & Herring, 2003). Can you think of other instances where access to the Internet has empowered people?

Relationship Communication in E-mail
Women are more likely to use e-mail for relational purposes—e.g., keeping in touch with family and friends—than are males, a finding that replicates the gender differences found in face-to-face communication and that demonstrates that it’s especially easy for women to expand their social networks (Boneva, Kraut, & Frohlich, 2001). Do you find that women are more relational in their communication than men?

Driving and the Cell Phone
One of the great advantages of cell phone communication is that you can talk wherever you are but while driving this creates problems—something that common sense and research both agree on (Charlton, 2004; Gugerty, Rakauskas, & Brooks, 2004). What can you do to guard against the dangers of driving while talking on the phone? Would you support laws banning cell phone use while driving as done in some municipalities?

Chapter 10. Universals of Interpersonal Relationships
Advantages of Online Relationships
Among the advantages of online relationships is that they reduce the importance of physical characteristics and instead emphasize such factors as rapport, similarity, and self-disclosure and in the process promote relationships that are based on emotional intimacy rather than physical attraction (Cooper & Sportolari, 1997). What do you see as the main advantages of online relationships?

Stages of Online Relationships
How would you describe the stages of online relationships? How would they be similar to face-to-face relationships? How would they differ?

Face-to-Face and Online Flirting
How would you describe flirting and how would it differ in face-to-face and in online situations? A beginning attempt at answering this question may be found in Whitty (2003).

Privacy and Emotional Closeness [Could also go in Chapter 3]
In face-to-face relationships, emotional closeness compromises privacy; the closer you become, the less privacy you have. In online relationships, however, because you’re more in control of what you reveal, you can develop close emotional relationships but also maintain your privacy (Ben-Ze’ev, 2003). Do you find this to be true? If not, how would you express the relationship between emotional closeness and privacy?

Online Attractiveness
How would you define online attractiveness, using as your basis, the three variables identified here for face-to-face attractiveness: physical and personality attractiveness, proximity, and similarity?

How would you compare relationship risk in face-to-face and online relationships? Generally, in which situation are the risks greater? Why?

Chapter 11. Interpersonal Relationships: Growth and Deterioration
Virtual Infidelity
Online infidelity is a relatively new problem with which couples must cope. Generally such infidelity is seen as a consequence of a failure in communication between the couple (Young, Griffin-Shelley, Cooper, O’Mara, & Buchanan, 2000). How would you describe online infidelity? What warning signs would lead you to suspect that your partner may be engaging in a secretive online relationship?

Relationship Maintenance and E-Mail
E-mail is one of the major ways in which meaningful relationships are maintained (Stafford, Kline, & Dimmick, 1999). In what specific ways can you envision e-mail being used to communicate relationship maintenance messages?

Online Equity
How would you describe equity in online relationships compared with, say, cohabitating relationships? Under what conditions would the costs exceed the rewards in online relationships?

Staying Together
One study found that of the people who met on the Internet, those that met in places of common interests, who communicated over a period of time before they met in person, who managed barriers to greater closeness and who managed conflict well were more likely to stay together than couples who did not follow this general pattern (Baker, 2002). Based on your own experiences, how would you predict which couples would stay together and which would break apart?

Chapter 12. Interpersonal Relationships: Friendship, Love, Family, and Workplace
Intimacy and Friendship
One study found that cross-sex face-to-face friendships were viewed as more intimate than computer-mediated friendships. But, for female-female friendships, face-to-face and CMC friendships were rated equally. CMC friends among males were rated as more intimate than face-to-face friendships (Haidar-Yassine, 2002). How would you compare CMC with face-to-face friendships on such dimensions as intimacy, closeness, and attraction?

Some Reasons for Internet Friendships
Research on young people (ages 10-17) finds that for both girls and boys, those who formed close online relationships were more likely to have low levels of communication with their parents and to be “highly troubled” than those who don’t form such close online relationships (Wolak, Mitchell, & Finkelhor, 2003). Based on your knowledge and memory of this age group, did you find similar relationships? What other characteristics do you think might differentiate those who form close relationships online and those who don’t?

Advantages of Online Friendships
Among the advantages of online friendships are that they provide recreation, support, safety, diversity, and networking possibilities (Reiner & Blanton, 1997). What advantages to you see to online friendships?

The Internet and Generational Conflict
In South Korea, Internet use seems to be contributing further to the already significant generational conflict between children and parents (Rhee & Kim, 2004). Has computer mediated communicated contributed to generational communication gaps within your own family network?

Students Away at College
When students go away to college, they often maintain close connections with their family and high school friends through cell phones, e-mail, and instant messaging. What advantages does this ease of connection provide? Can you identify any problems this might create?

Taking Safety Precautions
One study suggests that people who make friends on the Internet do take safety precautions, e.g., protecting anonymity and talking on the phone before meeting face-to-face (McCown, Fischer, Page, & Homant, 2001). What safety precautions do you take in online friendship and romantic relationships?

Chapter 13. Conflict in Interpersonal Relationships
What specific kinds of messages do you consider flaming—“the practice of posting messages that are deliberately hostile and insulting to a discussion board (usually on the Internet). Such messages are called flames, and are often posted in response to flamebait” (TheFreeDictionary.com). What messages in face-to-face communication might you also consider flaming (cf. O’Sullvan & Flanagin, 2003)?

E-mail and Interpersonal Conflict
In what ways do you find that e-mail can escalate interpersonal conflict? In what ways might it help resolve conflict?

Aggressiveness in Internet Communication
In what ways might a person express anger and aggressiveness in e-mail communication?

One study found that generally at least people are more positive in dealing with conflict in face-to-face situations than in computer-mediated communication? (Zornoza, Ripoll, & Peiro', 2002), Do you notice this to be true? If so, why do you think it’s true?

Chapter 14. Power in Interpersonal Relationships
In one study, 10-15 percent of the students surveyed reported being harassed via e-mail or Instant Messaging (Finn, 2004). What is the state of online harassment on your campus? What can you do about it?

Censoring Interactions
Censoring Interactions with a particularly annoying person (see TOP 100 #76)
Could also go with sexual harassment

E-Mail Information
When you receive an e-mail, the sender—with the appropriate software—can tell when you opened the e-mail, how long you kept it opened, and whether you read it once or more than once. Can you identify any business applications of this ability? How might it help the researcher who uses e-mail surveys, say? How might it be abused?

Organizational Hierarchies
Some theorists believe that CMC will eventually eliminate the hierarchical structure of organizations and perhaps ultimately society largely because it “encourages wider participation, greater candor, and an emphasis on merit over status” (Kollock & Smith, 1996, p. 109). If this is true, it would mean that high power distance cultures will move in the direction of low power distance and gradually become more democratic. What evidence can you find bearing on this issue?


Updating Some Statistics

Here's a useful website for updating statistics on relationships--here sexual. For especially interesting reports click on Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures and Births, Marriages, Divorces, and Deaths.


Films and Interpersonal Communication

Reviewing pages for the next edition of TICB and thinking about how I can better integrate media literacy into my books, I thought that different students are going to have very different opinions about how effectively the chapter opening photos function to introduce the chapter. And they’ll also have very different opinions as to which film might have been a better choice. So I think I’d try using this with any kind of chapter summary lecture: Now that you’ve read the chapter, what film would you have used to introduce the chapter? What television show? Why? How would you write the opening paragraph?

Here, btw, are the films and opening paragraphs that will appear in the next edition (I retained the same order of chapters):

1. The Aviator tells the story of Howard Hughes, one of the most interesting and eccentric people of all time, and his relationships with a wide variety of very different people; in a way it covers many of the topics discussed in this text—the importance of the self, verbal and nonverbal messages, interpersonal relationships, and perhaps especially conflict and power.

2. Hotel Rwanda tells the story of an attempted genocide by one cultural group, the Hutu, against another cultural group, the Tutsi, and the hotel manager who fights to save as many Rwandans as he can. Although the film can be appreciated on many levels, one level is clearly the horrors that can result from a lack of cultural understanding and an appreciation for cultural diversity—some of the issues explored in this chapter.

3. Sideways tells the story of two college friends who have entirely different self-concepts and the ways these self-concepts influence what they do and how they form relationships, topics considered in this chapter along with other topics relating to the self and interpersonal communication.

4. Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (like all six films in the series) challenges your initial perceptions and forces you to see dramatic changes in various characters. As you’ll see in this chapter, however, our perceptions of other people (and their perceptions of you) are extremely resistant to change—a good reason to make favorable first impressions.

5. Cellular tells the story of a high school science teacher (played by Kim Basinger) who is kidnapped and locked in an attic. With only a broken cell phone she tries to find someone to listen to her and come to her rescue and to save her son. This chapter is devoted to listening with a much more modest goal—to make your interpersonal communication more effective.

6. The financial and critical success of Ray is clearly due in great part to the effective combination of verbal and nonverbal messages used by Jamie Foxx to depict the life and music of Ray Charles. In this chapter we look at verbal and nonverbal messages and how they interact to yield effective messaging.

7. Finding Neverland is the story of James Barrie and especially his creation of Peter Pan and how entirely through words brought to life characters (Tinkerbelle and Captain Hook) that have lived in the minds of children (and adults) ever since. Words have tremendous power and can enable you to accomplish a great deal as you’ll discover in this chapter.

8. With little in the way of story, House of Flying Daggers engages you with its visual display. It is the power of the nonverbal messages that maintain your interest and attention much as it happens in interpersonal communication—the subject of this chapter.

9. In Phone Booth you see a man who is confined to talking on the telephone to prevent his own death and although conversation is not usually a matter of life or death, it does have considerable consequences as you’ll discover in this chapter.

10, One of the most influential people in bringing to light the sexual and relationship practices of ordinary people was Alfred Kinsey whose life and contributions are depicted in Kinsey. In this chapter we also look at relationships and describe their characteristics, stages, and how they are influenced by both culture and technology.

11. Closer tells the story of two couples—their growth and their deterioration and the changes that take place in their interpersonal communication—a topic that closely reflects the substance of this chapter.

12. On one level Vera Drake tells the story of a woman who performs illegal abortions in London in the 1950’s. On another level it is the story of a family and how its members are all affected by what happens to one of them, a defining quality of relationships that are interpersonal. This chapter too discusses family as an interpersonal relationship along with friendship, love, and work relationships.

13. Million Dollar Baby is on the surface a film about conflict in the boxing ring but on a deeper level is about a wide variety of relationship conflicts, the subject of this chapter.

14. The Incredibles tells the story of a superhero who must now fight a giant killer robot to save the world, a test of who is more powerful. This chapter also focuses on power but of a different type—the power of messages to influence and help you accomplish what you want.



If I remember my movies correctly, in “The Punisher”—a B-movie making its rounds on cable—hero Tom Jane “tortures” someone to get information. After an elaborate build up of what the torture will feel and smell like—he administers the torture—placing an ice pop against the would-be informant’s flesh while he burns meat on a grill—all outside the vision of the informant. Of course, Jane gets the information he wants. Now, a research study confirms the effectiveness of what Jane did. The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences but is widely reported on the Net. Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist University Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC—led by Tetsuo Koyama--found that subjects “experienced” pain (in part) in accordance with what they expected. So, those who were told that they were going to receive a heat stimulus that was more intense (and painful) than the previous one, actually experienced greater pain. When subjects expected moderate pain but actually were given high pain they rated the intensity of the pain about 28 percent lower than when they expected a high level of pain and did in fact receive it. Twenty-eight percent is approximately the pain reduction a person would get from a shot of morphine.
There seem lots of implications from this study. One very practical one is to train people to manage pain. But, there are lots of other implications--for perception and expectations, for verbal messages, for persuasion.