Action-oriented listeners
actual self

Self that consists of the attributes that you or someone else believes you actually possess.


Touching behaviors and movements that indicate internal states typically related to arousal or anxiety and may be directed at the self, others, or objects.

Annoyance swearing

Swearing that provides a sense of relief as people use it to manage stress and tension, which can be a preferred alternative to physical aggression.


Possessions that communicate our identities.

assumed similarity

Perceptual tendency to perceive others as similar to us.


The sensory route on which a message travels.


The sensory route on which a message travels.


The study of how time affects communication.

constant connectivity

A quality of personal media whereby we are “reachable” nearly all the time, which can be both comforting and anxiety inducing.

Contact cultures

Cultural groups in which people stand closer together, engage in more eye contact, touch more frequently, and speak more loudly.

contaminated messages

Messages that include mixed or misleading expressions.

Critical listening
Cultural context

Aspects of identities such as race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, and ability that influence communication.


The process of turning communication into thoughts.


Gestures that have specific agreed-on meanings.


The process of turning thoughts into communication.

Environmental noise

Physical noise present in a communication encounter.

External attributions

The process of connecting the cause of behaviors to situational factors.


Conclusions based on direct observation or group consensus.


Messages sent in response to other messages.

Formal time

Applies to professional situations in which we are expected to be on time or even a few minutes early.

fundamental attribution error

A perceptual error through which we are more likely to explain others’ behaviors using internal rather than external attributions.

halo effect

Perceptual effect that occurs when initial positive perceptions lead us to view later interactions as positive.


The study of communication by touch.

horn effect

Perceptual effect that occurs when initial negative perceptions lead us to view later interactions as negative.

ideal self

Self that consists of the attributes that you or someone else would like you to possess.

Identity needs

Needs related to the desire to present ourselves to others and be thought of in particular ways.


The most common type of gesture, used to illustrate the verbal message they accompany.

Immediacy behaviors

Verbal and nonverbal behaviors that lessen real or perceived physical and psychological distance between communicators.

implicit personality theories

An interpretation process that uses previous experience to generalize a person’s overall personality from the limited traits we can perceive.

inference-observation confusion

A frequent source of miscommunication that involves the misperception of an inference (conclusion based on limited information) as an observation (an observed or agreed-on fact).


Conclusions based on thoughts or speculation, but not direct observation.

Informal time

Applies to casual and interpersonal situations in which there is much more variation in terms of expectations for promptness.

Informational listening
Instrumental needs

Needs that help us get things done in our day-to-day lives and achieve short- and long-term goals.

integrative learning

An approach that encourages students to reflect on how the content they are learning connects to other classes they have taken or are taking, their professional goals, and their civic responsibilities.

interaction model of communication describes communication

Describes communication as a process in which participants alternate positions as sender and receiver and generate meaning by sending messages and receiving feedback within physical and psychological contexts.

Internal attributions

The process of connecting the cause of behaviors to personal aspects such as personality.

Interpersonal communication

Communication between people whose lives mutually influence one another.


The third part of the perception process, in which we assign meaning to our experiences using mental structures known as schemata.

Intrapersonal communication

Communication with oneself using internal vocalization or reflective thinking.


Specialized words used by a certain group or profession.


Expressions of approval or disapproval that are subjective and not verifiable.


Refers to the study of hand, arm, body, and face movements.

Long-term memory
looking glass self

A concept that explains that we see ourselves reflected in other people’s reactions to us and then form our self-concept based on how we believe other people see us.


The verbal or nonverbal content being conveyed in a communication encounter.


The often subconscious practice of using nonverbal cues that match those of others around us.

mixed messages

Messages in which verbal and nonverbal signals contradict each other.


A fixed and precise orientation toward time in which time is seen as a commodity that can be budgeted, saved, spent, and wasted and events are to be scheduled in advance and have set beginning and ending times.


Anything that interferes with a message being sent between participants in a communication encounter.


Cultural groups in which people stand farther apart while talking, make less eye contact, and touch less during regular interactions.

Nonverbal communication

A process of generating meaning using behavior other than words.


The study of eye behaviors as nonverbal communication.


The second part of the perception process, in which we sort and categorize information that we perceive based on innate and learned cognitive patterns.

ought self

Self that consists of the attributes you or someone else believes you should possess.


The vocalized but not verbal part of a spoken message, such as speaking rate, volume, and pitch.

Partial messages

Messages that are missing a relevant type of expression and can lead to misunderstanding and conflict.


The senders and/or receivers of messages in a communication encounter.

People-oriented listeners

The process of selecting, org

Perception checking

A strategy to help us monitor our reactions to and perceptions about people and communication.


A person’s general way of thinking, feeling, and behaving based on underlying motivations and impulses.

Phatic communion

Scripted and routine verbal interactions that are intended to establish social bonds rather than actually exchange meaning.

Physical context

The environmental factors in a communication encounter.

Physical needs

Needs that keep our bodies and minds functioning.


Negative feelings or attitudes toward people based on their identity or identities.

primacy effect

Perceptual tendency to place more value on the first information we receive about a person.

Prosocial self-presentation

Strategically exhibiting behaviors that present a person as a role model and make a person more likable and attractive.


The study of how space and distance influence communication.

Psychological context

The mental and emotional factors in a communication encounter.


The structuring of information into a timeline to determine the cause (stimulus) and effect (response) of our communication interactions.

recency effect

Perceptual tendency to place more weight on the most recent impression we have of a person’s communication over earlier impressions.

Relational context

The previous interpersonal history and type of relationship we have with a person.

Relational needs

Needs that help us maintain social bonds and interpersonal relationships.


The degree to which something attracts our attention in a particular context.


Databases of stored, related information that we use to interpret new experiences.


The first part of the perception process, in which we focus our attention on certain incoming sensory information.


The judgments and evaluations we make about our self-concept.

Self-discrepancy theory

Theory that explains that people have beliefs about and expectations for their actual and potential selves that do not always match up with what they actually experience.


The judgments people make about their ability to perform a task within a specific context.

self-enhancement bias

Self-presentation bias that refers to our tendency to emphasize our desirable qualities.


The judgments and evaluations we make about our self-concept.

Self-fulfilling prophecies

Thought and action patterns in which a person’s false belief triggers a behavior that makes the initial false belief actually or seemingly come true.


The process of strategically concealing or revealing personal information in order to influence others’ perceptions.

self-serving bias

A perceptual error through which we overattribute the cause of our successes to internal personal factors while overattributing our failures to external factors beyond our control.

Self-serving self-presentation

Strategically exhibiting behaviors that present a person as highly skilled, willing to challenge others, and someone not to be messed with.

Semantic noise

Noise that occurs in the encoding and decoding process when the participants do not understand a symbol.

Short-term memory
Social comparison theory

Theory that explains how we describe and evaluate ourselves in terms of how we compare to other people.

Social context

The stated rules or unstated norms that guide communication.

social swearing

Swearing used conversationally to create social bonds or for impression management (to seem cool or attractive).


Sets of beliefs that we develop about groups, which we then apply to individuals from that group.

supportive messages

Messages communicated in an open, honest, and nonconfrontational way.


An innate drive to take up and defend spaces.

Tie signs

Nonverbal cues that communicate intimacy and signal the connection between two people.

Time-oriented listeners
transaction model of communication

Describes communication as a process in which communicators generate social realities within social, relational, and cultural contexts.

transmission model of communication

Describes communication as a linear, one-way process in which a sender intentionally transmits a message to a receiver.

unsupportive messages

Messages that can make others respond defensively, which can lead to feelings of separation and actual separation or dissolution of a relationship.

Verbal expressions

Language that helps us communicate our observations, thoughts, feelings, and needs.


The study of paralanguage, which includes the vocal qualities that go along with verbal messages, such as pitch, volume, rate, vocal quality, and verbal fillers.

Whole messages

Messages that include all the relevant types of expressions needed to most effectively communicate in a given situation, including what you see, what you think, what you feel, and what you need.


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Interpersonal Communication (Dutton) by [author removed at request of original publisher] is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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