Levels of Communication

In reference to Nell's comment about the levels of communication: I think most people organize the levels of communication around the number of people participating: intrapersonal (1 person), interpersonal (2 or 3 people), small group (5-10 people), and public speaking (1 speaker with audiences ranging from very small to very large). And then there's mass communication which involves even more people. And then there's interviewing which is often grouped with interpersonal (because it usually involves 2 people but not necessarily people who are close to each other and is increasingly conducted in groups). And then there's computer mediated communication which is really on a different level because it can be interpersonal (as in e-mail), small group (as in chat rooms), or public (as in blogs or newsgroups). If this doesn't answer your question, let me know and I'll try again.


What do you say?

Here's an interesting discussion starter--what do you call that person you're dating, seeing, having a relationship with?


Same- and Opposite-Sex Relationships

Here's an interesting article from the New York Times Science section summarizing some of the research on same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. Here are some of the interesting findings:
(1) “Same sex relationships, whether between men or women, were far more egalitarian than heterosexual ones. . . Partners [in same sex relationships] tended to share the burdens far more equally.”
(2) Same-sex and opposite-sex couples have about the same amount of interpersonal conflict but same-sex couples had a higher degree of relationship satisfaction.
(3) When same-sex partners engage in conflict, they fight more fairly—“making fewer verbal attacks and more of an effort to defuse the confrontation. Controlling and hostile emotional tactics, like belligerence and domineering, were less common among gay couples.”
(4) During a conflict episode, opposite-sex couples were more likely to develop elevated heartbeat and adrenaline surges; after the conflict, opposite sex couples are more likely to remain in an agitated state.
(5) Same-sex partners seem better able to take the perspective of their partner than are opposite-sex couples, perhaps for obvious reasons.
(6) The demand-withdrawal pattern observed in opposite sex couples [“the woman tends to be unhappy and to make demands for change, while the man reacts by withdrawing from the conflict”] seems common in same-sex couples as well. So, it does not appear that this pattern is deeply rooted in gender.



Update on the statistics on cohabitation. A study of 13 countries (including the US), reported in USA Today (6/9/08, 5D), shows clearly that cohabitation is increasing. In the US, for example, it increased from 5.1 percent of all couples (in 1995) to 7.6 percent (in 2005). In Denmark and Sweden, approximately one-fourth of all couples cohabitate. Not everyone seems to agree on why people are increasingly cohabitating but among the reasons given are economic, uncertainty over the relationship, and as an alternative to traditional marriage.


If you want a good example of stereotyping and the stupidity it signals, consider the comment of Joseph L. Bruno, NYS senate majority leader, on gay marriage. His opposition, he assures us, should not be taken to mean he doesn’t appreciate the accomplishments of gay people. In fact, he particularly admires their contributions to the arts (New York Times, 6/2/08, B4). This kind of stereotyping is all the more frightening when we realize that Bruno is not only the leader of NYS’s Republican Party but that he is next in line to be Governor of NYS. We can only wonder why he admires other groups that have traditionally been stereotyped. I won’t even begin to speculate. But I think an interesting discussion would result from asking students to consider what someone who stereotypes a la Bruno would admire in groups of which they’re members.



Self-affirmation is often confusing to students who aren’t quite sure of how it can be done. I think a particularly useful way to look at self-affirmation is in terms of “I am,” “I can,” and “I will” statements, an idea that comes from www.coping.org (and there’s a lot more on this website that I think you’ll find useful):
I am statements focus on your self-image, on how you see yourself, and might include, for example, “I am a worthy person,” “I am responsible,” “I am capable of loving,” and “I am a good team player.”
I can statements focus on your abilities and might include, for example, “I can accept my past but also let it go,” “I can learn to be a more responsive partner,” “I can assert myself when appropriate,” and “I can control my anger.”
I will statements focus on useful and appropriate goals you want to achieve and might include, for example, “I will get over my guilty feelings,” “I will study more effectively,” “I will act more supportively,” and “I will not take on more responsibility than I can handle.”
The idea behind this advice is that the way you talk to yourself will influence what you think of yourself. If you affirm yourself—if you tell yourself that you’re a friendly person, that you can be a leader, that you will succeed on the next test—you will soon come to feel more positively about yourself. Some research, however, argues that such affirmations—although extremely popular in self-help books—may not be very helpful. These critics contend that if you have low self-esteem, you’re not going to believe your self-affirmations, because you don’t have a high opinion of yourself to begin with. They propose that the alternative to self-affirmation is to secure affirmation from others. You’d do this by, for example, becoming more interpersonally competent and interacting with more positive people. In this way, you’d get more positive feedback from others—which, these researchers argue, is more helpful than self-talk in raising self-esteem.