Author's 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 Etc: 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. Reprinted: Etc.: A Review of General Semantics 74 (2017):482-486.

The author and the reviewer. Etc.: A Review of General Semantics 46 (Winter 1989): 308-311. Reprinted Etc.: A Review of General Semantics 74 (2017): 482-486.

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 (July, 2009):248-253.

How to Write a Lot. Etc: A Review of General Semantics 67 (April, 2010):164-166.

The Textbook Writer Etc: A Review of General Semantics 70 (July 2013): 282-287.

On Testing. Blue Stone Press (May 15, 2015), 15.

Making Choices. Etc: A Review of General Semantics 73 (April 2016), 173-179.

Biases in Making Choices. Etc: A Review of General Semantics 73 (October 2016), 314-320.

Universals of Choice. Etc: A Review of General Semantics 75 (January and April 2018), 76-82.

[Books, with some personal reflections on some ]

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 and Bacon, 1976, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2016, 2019.
• Chinese Translation: The Interpersonal Communication Book. 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, 2010.
* Chinese Translation, The Interpersonal Communication Book, 12th edition. Pearson Education Asia, Ltd. and China Renmin University Press, 2014.
*Chinese translation, The Interpersonal Communication Book, 15th edition, in preparation.
*Global (aka International) editions (for markets outside the US, Canada, and UK--I think) were published regularly with the standard Pearson text.
     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 and Bacon, 1978, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2018.
• Indonesian Translation: Komunikasi Antarmanusia. Jakarta, Indonesia: Professional Books, 1997.
• New Zealand Edition, Human Communication. 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 Elements of Public Speaking. Boston: Allyn and 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 more 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 Communication Handbook: A Dictionary. New York: Harper and 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 and 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.
*French  Translation. La communication interpersonnelle: Sophie, Martin, Paul, et les autres, 3rd edition. Pearson, 2014.
• Canadian Editions, Messages: Building Interpersonal Communication Skills. 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 and Bacon, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008,  2011, 2014, 2017, 2020.
• 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.
• Chinese Translation: Essentials of Human Communication. Pro-Ed Publishing Co., 2006.
*Chinese Translation: Essentials of Human Communication, 8th ed. Beijing, China: Beijing United Publishing Co, Ltd., 2019.
     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 Public Speaking Guide. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.

Studying Communication: A Learning Guide for Students. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1995.

Brainstorms: How to Think More Creatively about Communication. . . or about Anything Else. Boston, Allyn and Bacon, 1996.

The Interpersonal Communication Reader (Edited). Boston: Allyn and 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 and Bacon, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2018. 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 and 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 and Bacon, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2017, in preparation for the 5th edition [2020].
• 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 ( 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).