INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION AND TRANSACTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS: CLARIFICATION AND APPLICATION DUDLEY D. CAHN What model does one use to understand interpersonal communication and how does one apply such a model when teaching a course in interpersonal communication? The author presents and applies a self-validation model and topology of transactional relationships to help select concepts, principles, and skills that are essential for the study of interpersonal communication. College and high school speech teachers, students, and administrators are increasingly interested in the subject of interpersonal communication. Publishers are responding to this interest with publicity on new textbooks, readers, and manuals. Bookstores are carrying several different popular paperbacks that can serve as additional readings. As a result speech teachers are overwhelmed by publications that purport to identify, discuss, or illustrate interpersonal concepts, principles, and skills. Because of this deluge of information, the selection of reading and lecture materials for an interpersonal course presents a problem for many speech teachers. What constitutes a valid study of the subject? In the midst of this confusion, I have developed a model and topology that have helped me select concepts, principles, and skills that are essential for ths study of interpersonal communication.^ In this article, I will describe the model and apply it to the teaching of interpersonal communication.
The Self-Validation Model From my experience in the classroom, I have constructed a self-validation model that is analogous to interpersonal perception theory.^ Basically, the model depicts interpersonal communication as each participant experiencing a conception of self and at least one other person experiencing that conception. Figure one is a pictorial representation of the self-validation model in dyadic situations. The model has three stages. At the first stage, person A meets person B. Each has a direct perspective of the other and one's self. The direct perspective of one's self is a selfconcept, defined as the information one has regarding his relationship to objects, people, and places.' It is based primarily on symbolic Dudley D. Cahn is Associate Pro/essor of Speech Com- information received in previous situations. munication at Ferris State CoUege, Big Rapids, The self-concept is conveyed to others Michigan. An earlier version of this paper was presented through communication defined as "the at the Action Caucus on Interpersonal Communication, Speech Communication Association Convention, Chicago, December 28. 1972. taken the position that interpersonal communication is "the transfer of symbolic information wbich has as its principle goal the coordination of human activity in regard to the presentation, development, and validation of individual self-concepts." See Donald P. Cushman and B. Thomas Florence, "The Development of Interpersonal Communication Theory," Today's Speech (Fall, 1974), 13. ^See R. D. Laing, H. Phillipson, and A. R. Lee, Interpersonal Perception (New York: Harper & Row, 1966). 'Cushman and Florence, "Interpersonal Communication Theory." p. 12.
'That the rule's perspective of Donald P. Cushman. Michigan State University, is consistent with the model and topology lends validity and clarity to them. According to Cushman, rules provide organization, which serves to guide human action. He argues that the selfconcept, which he defines as the composite of all the rules one has regarding his relationship to objects, people, and places, gives regularity to interpersonal communication. See Donald P. Cushman, "Alternative Theoretical Bases for the Study of Human Communication; The Rules Perspective" (Unpublished Paper, Speech Communication Association Convention, Houston, December, 1975), 13-17. Cusbman has consistently
COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY, Voi. 24, No. 4, FALL 1976
transmission of information by means of symbol...
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