Interpersonal Communication Research Paper

Interpersonal Communication Research Paper

Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to: (1) increase your ability to conceptualize the relationship between
communication concepts, specifically by modeling their influence on each other, (2) provide the opportunity to
demonstrate your ability to develop coherent arguments, and (3) encourage the application of communication
concepts to understand one’s own interpersonal relationships.
Overview: You will complete a research paper that focuses on examining the relationship between
concepts/issues that take place within interpersonal relationships. Specifically, you will select one of your
interpersonal relationships (e.g., friendship, romantic, familial, etc.) and in a 7-9 page paper, identify and discuss
the link between three (3) communication concepts/issues that are present in your interpersonal relationship. You
will need to conceptualize (i.e., define) each of the concepts/issues, model their relationship with each other,
provide empirical support for the proposed connections between the concepts, and provide ‘real life’ illustrative
examples from your relationship to support your claims.
Specific Assignment (STEP-BY-STEP)
Step 1: Choose an interpersonal relationship you wish to analyze for your research paper. When making your
selection, it is beneficial to select a meaningful interpersonal relationship. Specifically, think about
exploring a relationship that is multifaceted and/or where you have spent a lot of time communicating
with each other (regardless of communication channel; face-to-face or computer-mediated).
Step 2: Identify a main concept/issue you would like to explore in your relationship. For example, you might be
interested in examining trust in your romantic relationship. Or, you might be interested in examining selfdisclosure
in your relationship with a parent. Once you have decided on a central concept, choose two
other concepts you would like to examine in relation to your main concept. In total there should be three
(3) interrelated concepts that you examine.
One way of selecting concepts is by thinking about factors that influence each other. To illustrate,
research suggests that our cognitions (thoughts) and emotions (feelings) often influence our
communication (behavior). Ultimately you can think of exploring an issue in terms of cause-and-effect.
IMPORTANT: The only requirement is that at least one (1) of your concepts must deal with
communication behavior.
Possible concepts/issues that you might address include (IMPORTANT: This is not an exhaustive list):
Communication Competence* Identity/Self-Construal Computer-Mediated Comm.
Effective Communication* Impression Management Infidelity
Communication Styles* Attraction Jealousy
Self-disclosure* Similarity (Attitude, etc.) Betrayal
Affectionate Communication* Uncertainty (Reduction) Forgiveness
Supportive Communication* Expectations (Violations) Relational Satisfaction
Nonverbal* (a specific type) Relational Stages/Points Relational Dissolution*
Relational Maintenance* Attachment
Conflict Management Styles* Love (Love Styles)
Hurtful Messages* Power
*Note: Communication behavior concepts/issues are denoted by an asterisk.
Step 3: You should look through research literature that focuses on your three concepts/issues. More
specifically, you should look for literature that might inform/explain/address/support how these
concepts are related to each other. You will need to intelligently describe your issues (e.g., define,
explain) and their relationship with each other so choose your research literature wisely!
COMM 304: Research Paper Description (SP17) 2
You are strongly encouraged to find sources that help provide depth and richness to the points you make
in your paper. These resources should include empirical research articles, books, chapters, textbooks,
and/or pieces of popular press.
Step 4: Develop a communication-relevant model representing how your three concepts are related.
Models serve various functions in research, as well as in everyday life. A model is a visual simplification
of concepts that exist in both hypothesized conceptual form and an actual or potential observed form. For
example, if you believe that a preoccupied attachment style increases a person’s feelings of jealousy, and
that this, in turn, increases the likelihood that the person will respond in a negative manner then you have
three conceptual components, each of these being influenced by the other. Thus, you would have a very
basic model that looks something like the following:
Most models follow simple rules: (1) components on the left preceded, at some point, the components to
the right in real time; (2) every arrow represents a direct effect of one concept on another. This effect does
not have to be a causal relationship, but it usually implies such an influence; (3) every component must
have an arrow headed to at least one other component, and may have arrows to multiple other
components.
Step 5: Write a 7-9 page paper, in which you do the following:
Introduce your paper: Briefly indicate what you are going to discuss in your paper. Make sure that you
have a thesis statement. In your introduction you should identify the three concepts that you will be
discussing, and present a brief description of the relationship that you will be analyzing.
Present your Model: Provide a graphical depiction of your model. Since you will discuss how your
concepts are related, the relationships should be apparent in the visual model. Your model should include:
labeled concepts, and clear associations with arrows representing how a concept influences another.
Discussion Concepts and their Relationships: Once you have your model, you need to explain your
concepts and also how they are related to each other (as depicted in your model). Be sure to provide a scholarly
definition of each concept, provide relevant literature about the concept which helps to explain/understand your
relationship, and also indicate how the concepts are related to each other (as presented in your model).
Be sure to give clear, detailed examples of concepts which support (and illustrate) points you are making.
Conclusion: Tie together the different parts of your paper. Indicate how well your concepts relate to each
other. Indicate any conclusions that can be drawn regarding your interpersonal relationship based on
your discussion of the relationship between these concepts.

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