Researching Interactive Communication Behavior: A Sourcebook of Methods and Measures

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C. Arthur VanLear & Daniel J. Canary

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    Preface

    THE PURPOSE of this anthology is to present, in one sourcebook, discussions of various issues and methods that are necessary to anyone interested in observing communication behaviors, observational research, and actual interaction. Interaction behaviors constitute a necessary and vital feature of communicative processes, wherein people engage one another using messages, directly perceive those messages, and interpret the meaning of those messages. Interaction behaviors constitute the linchpin for linking people to one another through communication processes. In other words, systematic observations of interaction behavior are fundamental to building a science of communication.

    Moreover, systematic observation of interaction behavior greatly benefits researchers who connect communication to related factors, such as relationship stability and satisfaction, gaining compliance, health outcomes, and a host of other factors. To qualify as an “interaction behavioral measure,” a measure must be based on direct observation of behavior as it actually occurs—not as self-reports of recalled behavior or any other method that does not record actual interaction. Of course, the codes or scalar values that are actually analyzed represent only the significant features of behaviors as constructed by a researcher using a measurement or category system. However, those codes or values are reliably linked directly to the stimulus properties of the behaviors as they occur during interaction. Although a researcher may use alternative methods (e.g., experimentation, survey) in conjunction with or to complement observational research of communication, this sourcebook focuses solely on the observation of communication behaviors.

    This sourcebook addresses a number of conceptual issues related to interaction behaviors and research; it also strives to help researchers “hit the ground running” in designing and conducting observational research. The sourcebook will help both experienced and new researchers translate observed behaviors into usable information to facilitate the most appropriate and useful data analysis techniques available today.

    In addition, people teaching observational analysis and methods that require actual interaction should find this sourcebook invaluable. Obviously, researchers planning studies of communication processes will find the book a resource for planning those studies. Such studies can build on the work of other scholars working with the variables these observational systems represent. However, the audience for this book is not limited to communication scholars and students. The methods and observational systems covered have broad applicability, and they have been extensively used by researchers from a variety of disciplines studying individual differences in behavior, social and personal relationships, group dynamics, and other domains of behavior.

    Beyond using this book to help develop theory, other reasons warrant the use of observations of interaction behavior. One reason involves how observations by researchers can capture processes that fly below the cognitive radar of participants. Markman and Notarius (1987) stated, “Perhaps the most salient factor mandating observational research is the inability of interactants to describe the ongoing behavioral process, that is, contemporary patterns of interaction” (p. 331). Because they are not computers, people are severely handicapped at recalling their own interaction; for instance, people cannot provide accurate accounts of their own or their partners’ communication (Sillars, Roberts, Leonard, & Dunn, 2000), and they certainly cannot provide faithful descriptions of interaction sequences composed of dozens or hundreds of interlocking behaviors. Furthermore, people process and react to certain “spontaneous behaviors” through preattunements that may never reach conscious awareness (Buck & VanLear, 2002). Only researchers using observational methods can systematically depict interaction processes.

    Importantly, the vast majority of researchers concur that observations of actual interaction can help explain and predict the quality of people’s personal relationships. For instance, Gottman, Markman, and Notarius (1977) found that distressed (dissatisfied, unstable) couples differed from nondistressed couples in their communication behavior. For example, distressed couples were more likely than nondistressed couples to express feelings about problem, mind-read, agree, and disagree; all of these behaviors involved negative emotion. In addition, nondistressed partners used more agreement with neutral affect than did their distressed counterparts. We also know that interparental conflicts affect children in various ways. For example, destructive parental conflict has been closely linked to children’s psychological adjustment (e.g., McCoy, George, Cummings, & Davis, 2013). Even when perceptions of behavior produce the effect, it is of little use to tell people, “Be perceived as supportive,” or “Be seen as immediate,” or “Don’t be so domineering,” without providing a description of the behavioral features that can be associated with these constructs.

    Finally, observed interaction behaviors have been connected to people’s physical and mental health (see Denes, Afifi, & Hesse, this volume). For example, the use of negative conflict messages, especially when coupled with loud and fast vocalics, leads to cardiovascular problems, negative hormonal adaptations, and immunological lapses (e.g., Kiecolt-Glaser, McGuire, Robles, & Glaser, 2002). It is essential to continue observations of couple communication, as people are interested to know how their communication behaviors link to health outcomes.

    This book is divided into three parts. The first part comprises reviews of behavioral systems within four selected domains. The authors review a variety of behavioral measures and coding systems used to study conflict, family interaction, nonverbal communication, and physiological behaviors and measures. The second part highlights in-depth treatments of specific methods, measurements, and/or category systems of both verbal and nonverbal behaviors. The third part addresses general issues or concerns that cut across domains and measures. These include coding, reliability and validity, and the analysis and modeling of behavioral interaction as a jointly coordinated mutually adaptive process.

    We first thank all of the authors for agreeing to share their expertise and for making good on their agreements. We especially appreciate their timeliness, responsiveness, and understanding as we coordinated the initial and revised versions of their chapters during the editorial process. As the reader will see, all contributors present informative and insightful chapters regarding observational research of interaction. We also acknowledge our respective departments and universities—the departments of communication at the University of Connecticut and the University of Utah—for their support of this project. Finally, Arthur thanks his wife, Tessa Dragon VanLear, for her understanding and forbearance as he gave this book the attention it required; likewise, Dan thanks his wife, Heather, for reminding him of what is important.

    Last, we extend our thanks to the people at SAGE for making this anthology come alive. Matt Burney acquisitioned the book, made important suggestions regarding its content, and helped us move through the prepublication process. Others at SAGE include Ashe Blank (marketing manager), Jim Kelly (copyeditor), Libby Larson (production editor), Janae Masnovi (editorial assistant), and Jillian Oelsen (senior marketing associate).

    We hope that readers will find this sourcebook helpful for understanding observational research and useful as a springboard for conducting their own observational studies.

    C. Arthur VanLear (University of Connecticut)Daniel J. Canary (University of Utah)
    References
    Buck, R., & VanLear, C. A. (2002). Verbal and nonverbal communication: Distinguishing symbolic, spontaneous, and pseudo-spontaneous nonverbal behavior. Journal of Communication, 52 (3), 522541.
    Gottman, J., Markman, J., & Notarius, C., (1977). The topography of marital conflict: A sequential analysis of verbal and nonverbal behavior. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 39, 461-477
    Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., McGuire, L., Robles, T., & Glaser, R. (2002). Psychoneuroimmunology: Psychological influences on immune function and health. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70, 537547.
    Markman, H. J., & Notarius, C. I. (1987). Coding and marital family interaction: Current status. In T. Jacob (Ed.), Family interaction and psychology (pp. 329390). New York: Plenum.
    McCoy, K. P., George, M.R.W., Cummings, E. M., & Davies, P. T. (2013). Constructive and destructive marital conflict, parenting, and children’s school and social adjustment. Social Development, 22, 641662.
    Sillars, A. L., Roberts, L. J., Leonard, K. E., & Dun, T. (2000). Cognition during marital conflict: The relationship of thought and talk. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17, 479502.

    Acknowledgments

    The editors would like to thank the following reviewers:

    Connie Bullis, The University of Utah

    Susan L. Kline, Ohio State University

    Gwen M. Wittenbaum, Michigan State University

    Alesia Woszidlo, University of Kansas

    Joseph B. Walther, Michigan State University

  • About the Editors

    C. Arthur VanLear earned his PhD from the University of Utah. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at The University of Connecticut. He has published a number of scholarly articles and sat on the editorial boards of major communication journals, as well as interdisciplinary journals dealing with personal relationships. His co-authored article won the B. Aubrey Fisher Outstanding Article Award in 2005. He has authored or co-authored a number of book chapters in interpersonal communication, social and personal relationships, and research methods. He is the co-editor (with James Watt) of Dynamic Patterns in Communication Processes (Sage, 1996). His research interests have focused on relational communication (e.g., relationship formation, marital and family communication, and support in the addiction recovery process, and self-fulfilling prophecies) and both methodological and theoretical issues involved in dynamic modeling of interpersonal processes including behavioral interaction analysis and longitudinal and time-series analyses of communication.

    Daniel J. Canary (PhD, University of Southern California, 1983) is an adjunct professor at the University of Utah. He has formerly taught at Penn State University, Arizona State University, Ohio University, California State University Fullerton, and elsewhere. A current member of several editorial boards, Professor Canary’s research interests revolve around the symbiotic association between interpersonal communication and personal relationships. With over 10 books and 75 articles and book chapters, his particular research interests include relational maintenance strategies, interpersonal conflict management, and conversational argument. Dan is a former president of the Western States Communication Association and the International Network on Personal Relationships.

    About the Contributors

    Tamara D. Afifi is a Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. Her research focuses on communication patterns that foster risk and resiliency in families and other interpersonal relationships, with particular emphasis on: (1) information regulation and (2) how people communicate when they are stressed and the impact of these communication patterns on personal and relational health. Her research examines how environmental factors interact with family members’ communication patterns (e.g., conflict, stressful disclosures, social support, avoidance, verbal rumination, communal coping) to affect stress, adaptation, growth, and physical/mental/relational health. Professor Afifi is the editor elect for Communication Monographs. She has also received numerous research awards, including the Young Scholar Award from the International Communication Association in 2006, the Brommel Award for a distinguished career of research in family communication from the National Communication Association (NCA) in 2011, and three distinguished article awards from the NCA.

    Janet Beavin Bavelas was educated at Stanford (A.B., Psychology; A.M., Communication Research; PhD, Psychology) and has spent her academic career at the University of Victoria, where she is currently an active Emeritus Professor of Psychology. She has co-authored Pragmatics of Human Communication (1967) and Equivocal Communication (1990) as well as over 90 journal articles or book chapters. Bavelas and her research team conduct experiments on the unique features of face-to-face dialogue, specifically, the integration of words and co-speech acts (hand and facial gestures, gaze) and the moment-by-moment collaboration between speakers and addressee. Microanalysis of face-to-face dialogue (MFD) developed out of this program of research. More recently, the team have been applying this method and their findings to dialogues outside the lab: in psychotherapy, medicine, parent-infant interaction, and computer-mediated interaction. (see http://web.uvic.ca/psyc/bavelas/) Academic honors include Fellowships in the Royal Society of Canada, the International Communication Association, and the Canadian Psychological Association.

    Judee K. Burgoon is Professor of Communication, Family Studies and Human Development at the University of Arizona, where she is Director of Research for the Center for the Management of Information and Site Director for the Center for Identification Technology Research, a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center. She has authored or edited 14 books and monographs and over 300 published articles, chapters, and reviews related to nonverbal and verbal communication, interpersonal deception, and computer-mediated communication. Her current program of research centers on developing tools and methods for automated detection of deception and has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security, among others.

    Heather E. Canary (PhD, Arizona State University) is Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of Utah. Her primary research focus is communication across lay and professional groups, particularly processes of knowledge construction and decision-making among family members and health care professionals. Dr. Canary conducts studies in family and organizational contexts involving health, disability, and policy implementation. She has published articles in The American Journal of Public Health, Communication Theory, and Management Communication Quarterly, among other scholarly journals. Dr. Canary co-authored the book Family Conflict and co-edited the book Communication and Organizational Knowledge: Contemporary Issues for Theory and Practice. She has chapters in several edited volumes, including the Handbook of Communication Science and The SAGE Encyclopedia of Health Communication.

    Jennifer A. Cummings is an Assistant Professor (Lecturer) in the Department of Management at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. She received a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Utah in the Department of Communication. Her research interests include relational communication, interpersonal and family communication, mother/daughter relationships, health communication, and organizational communication. She currently teaches communication in the undergraduate and MBA programs. She is also a certified conflict mediator and communication consultant.

    Tehran J. Davis is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Connecticut and faculty member at the Center for the Ecological Study of Perception and Action (CESPA). He received his Ph. D. from the University of Cincinnati in 2012. His main research interests lie in ecological and dynamical systems approaches to the selection, control, and coordination of action, including applications to joint action and interpersonal coordination within multi-agent systems.

    Amanda Denes, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Connecticut. She received her PhD in Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with an emphasis in Feminist Studies. Her primary area of specialization is interpersonal communication, with emphases in disclosure, sexuality, and identity. Much of her work looks at the association between communication in interpersonal relationships and people’s physiological, psychological, and relational health. In particular, she is interested in why individuals disclose information about themselves to others, how they disclose that information, and the effects of such disclosures on individuals and their relationships.

    Norah E. Dunbar is a Professor of Communication at University of California Santa Barbara. She teaches courses in nonverbal and interpersonal communication, communication theory, and deception detection. She was the Principal Investigator of a $5.4 million contract from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity in 2011-2013 and has had her research funded by the National Science Foundation, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Center for Identification Technology Research. She has published over 35 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and has presented over 60 papers at national and international conferences. Her research has appeared in journals such as Communication Research, Communication Monographs, and Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication as well as interdisciplinary journals such as Journal of Management Information Systems and Computers in Human Behavior. She has served on the editorial board of six disciplinary journals and is the Chair of the Nonverbal Division of the National Communication Association.

    Aaron C. Elkins is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the MIS department at the University of Arizona. Aaron was previously a Research Fellow at the Intelligent Behaviour Understanding Group at Imperial College London and the National Center for Border Security and Immigration, a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence. Aaron conducts laboratory and field experiments that investigate how the voice, face, body, and language reveal emotion, deception, and cognition for human-computer interaction applications. He also researches how decision makers will actually use and are affected by these artificial intelligence-based technologies.

    Jennifer Gerwing (PhD, Psychology, University of Victoria, Canada) uses microanalysis in both lab experiments and applied settings. Her experiments focus on the effects of face-to-face dialogue on hand and facial gestures, especially in relation to speech. She applies microanalysis in clinical settings, including her present position as a senior researcher at the Health Services Research Center at Akershus University Hospital in Oslo, Norway. Jennifer’s main interest is multimodality, specifically the semantic role that hand and facial gestures play in clinical interactions and how these modalities integrate with speech to convey essential information. She is currently studying videotaped clinical interactions that involve a language barrier between patient and health care provider. She has also studied interactional coordination, both in home videos of triplets, one of whom was later diagnosed with autism, and also in medical emergency telephone dialogues. Jennifer collaborates with researchers in Canada, the US, the UK, and Norway.

    Laura K. Guerrero is a Professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. Her research focuses on relational, nonverbal, and emotional communication, with an emphasis on how communication affects relationships in positive and negative ways. She has studied how people communicate intimacy and forgiveness as ways to keep relationships healthy. She has also looked at how people communicate in situations where they are jealous, hurt, or angry. She has published over 100 articles and chapters on these topics, as well as several books, including Close Encounters: Communication in Relationships (Guerrero, Andersen & Afifi, 2014), Nonverbal Communication in Close Relationships (Guerrero & Floyd, 2006), Nonverbal Communication (Burgoon, Guerrero, & Floyd, 2010), The Nonverbal Communication Reader (Guerrero & Hecht, 2008), and The Handbook of Communication and Emotion (Andersen & Guerrero, 1998).

    Ruben C. Gur received his BA in Psychology and Philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, in 1970 and his MA and PhD in Psychology (Clinical) from Michigan State University in 1971 and 1973, respectively. He did Postdoctoral training with E.R. Hilgard at Stanford University and came to Penn as Assistant Professor in 1974. His research has been in the study of brain and behavior in healthy people and patients with brain disorders, with a special emphasis on exploiting neuroimaging as experimental probes. His work has documented sex differences, aging effects, and abnormalities in regional brain function associated with schizophrenia, affective disorders, stroke, epilepsy, movement disorders, and dementia. His work has been supported by grants from the NIMH, NIH, NIA, NINDS, NSF, DOD, private foundations (Spencer, MacArthur, EJLB, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation), and industry (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Lilly, Merck).

    Jihan Hamm is a Research Scientist at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the Ohio State University. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008, with a focus on dimensionality reduction for machine learning. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the Penn medical school working on machine learning applications in medical data analysis, including computational morphological analysis of medical images and analysis of facial expression for affect disorders. He has a best paper award from medical imaging (MedIA-MICCAI, 2010), and was also a finalist for MICCAI Young Scientist Publication Impact Award (2013). His recent research is focused on machine learning problems in big data analysis.

    Sara Healing obtained her degrees in the Department of Psychology at the University of Victoria (Canada). Her honours thesis was an experiment on the effects of two different lines of questioning about the same task and was subsequently published in a psychotherapy journal. For her M.Sc. thesis, she developed a microanalysis that identified the unique information an individual patient can contribute to oncology consultations. Her primary research interests are using microanalysis to study face-to-face dialogue, and she has collaborated in 18 such studies, including both basic research in lab experiments and applications of the method in various applied settings, especially medical and psychotherapy dialogues. Her publications include experiments on hand and facial gestures in psycholinguistics journals, bad-news delivery in a medical journal, and a chapter in a language and social interaction handbook. As part of Victoria Microanalysis Associates, she teaches international professional workshops on microanalysis and communication research.

    Colin Hesse , Assistant Professor, joined the Department of Speech Communication at Oregon State University in September 2013. Colin completed his PhD at Arizona State University in 2009. His research focuses on the links between interpersonal communication and both psychological and physiological health. Specific communication processes of interest include the communication of affection, alexithymia, and family communication.

    Dean E. Hewes is a Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. He specialized in group communication, interpersonal communication, the cognitive bases of communication, and process analysis techniques. His publications have appeared in such outlets as Communication Monographs, Human Communication Research, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication Research, and the Journal of Communication, as well as chapters in numerous edited books.

    Christian G. Kohler , MD, is associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, PA. Dr. Kohler received his medical degree from Innsbruck University in Austria and underwent specialty training at Wright State University and the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he is medical director of the neuropsychiatry section. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Kohler has investigated emotion processing in persons with schizophrenia, in particular emotion recognition and emotion expression. His research has been supported through grants from the National Institutes of Mental Health and private foundations.

    Erina L. MacGeorge (PhD, University of Illinois) is associate professor in communication arts and sciences at the Pennsylvania State University. She studies how communication influences problem-solving, decision-making, and coping, with a focus on advice and support in interactions between friends, and with regard to health issues that include miscarriage, bipolar disorder, and breast cancer. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation.

    Nickola C. Overall is an Associate Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Nickola’s research interests focus on identifying the factors that determine the relative success of different communication strategies used when relationship partners are trying to resolve conflict or support each other. Nickola also examines how depression, attachment insecurities, and sexist attitudes effect relationship functioning, and the relationship and family processes that exacerbate or overcome these difficulties. Nickola’s primary methodological aim is to assess people’s relationship perceptions and behavior as it matters in real-life. To achieve this, Nickola combines various methodologies, including behavioral observation, social interaction, and daily diaries, and longitudinal designs to track individual and relationship progress over time. Nickola has published over 60 empirical research articles and book chapters, and she is currently Associate Editor for Social Psychological and Personality Science.

    Marshall Scott Poole (Ph.D University of Wisconsin-Madison) is David L. Swanson Professor of Communication, Senior Research Scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and Director of the Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include group and organizational communication, information systems, collaboration technologies, organizational innovation, and theory construction. He has authored or edited 11 books and over 150 articles, book chapters, and proceedings publications.

    L. Edna Rogers (PhD, Michigan State University) is a professor of Communication at the University of Utah. Her research focuses on the interaction processes of interpersonal relationships with a special emphasis on marital and family communication systems. She is a past president of the International Communication Association and, across her career, a recipient of multiple teaching and research awards.

    Wendy Samter serves as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Bryant University. In that role, she is responsible for eight academic departments, fifteen undergraduate majors, and three graduate programs. As a scholar of interpersonal communication, Dr. Samter’s research focuses on communication skills predictive of relational success across the lifespan. In particular, her work examines how individual differences in social cognition, beliefs about the role communication skills play in relationships, and skill performance influence a person’s ability to initiate and maintain successful interpersonal relationships. Dr. Samter has also explored how definitions and enactments of relevant communication skills vary as a function of age, ethnicity, relationship type, and context. She has published widely with books and articles, served as journal editor, and received numerous awards for her teaching.

    David R. Seibold is a professor of technology management (and an affiliate professor of communication) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Author of more than 150 scholarly publications in communication, psychology, and management, his research examines argument, influence, and group decision making; communication and temporality; and innovation and organizational change. A former editor of the Journal of Applied Communication Research and recipient of numerous career awards and recognitions for individual papers, he is a Distinguished Scholar in the National Communication Association and a Fellow of the International Communication Association.

    Alan L. Sillars teaches classes related to interpersonal communication, conflict processes, and family relationships at the University of Montana. He is best known for his research on conflict and interpersonal perception in close relationships and families, which includes a number of observational studies. Sillars is the former Editor of Communication Monographs and twice received the Franklin H. Knower Award from the National Communication Association (USA) for the best article published on interpersonal communication. He also received the Bernard J. Brommel Award for outstanding scholarship in family communication and the Mark L. Knapp Award honoring career contributions to the study of interpersonal communication.

    Christine Tomori’s degrees are from the University of Victoria (Canada). Her honours thesis, which was later published, used microanalysis to compare the communication patterns of therapists using two different approaches. Her MSc thesis developed the Patient-centred assessment of symptoms and activities (P-CASA), based on the individual patient’s priorities rather than a standard list of symptoms. As part of Victoria Microanalysis Associates, Tomori has developed and taught international professional workshops on microanalysis and contemporary communication research for practitioners. including psychotherapists, coaches, and physicians. She has a particular interest and expertise in solution-focused brief therapy and coaching. She is currently the principal of Tomori Solutions, Ltd., a consulting company that provides research, project management, and professional development within the fields of health care administration and communicative processes in applied settings (workplace, health, social services). Current clients are: BC Ministry of Health, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, and the Victoria Division of Family Practice.

    Ragini Verma is an Associate Professor in Section of Biomedical Image Analysis (SBIA) and the Center for Biomedical Image Computing and Analytics, Department of Radiology at University of Pennsylvania. She has masters in mathematics and computer applications followed by a PhD in computer vision and mathematics, from IIT Delhi (India). She did a postdoc at INRIA, Rhone-Alpes, with the MOVI project (currently LEARS and PERCEPTION) on computer vision, followed by a post doc in medical imaging at SBIA, prior to taking up her current position. Ragini’s research interest spans the area of diffusion imaging, structural and functional connectomics, and facial expression analysis. She is actively involved in several clinical studies in schizophrenia, autism, and brain tumors as well as projects in animal imaging, and imaging studies of sex differences.

    Harry Weger, Jr. (PhD, University of Arizona) is an Associate Professor in the Nicholson School of Communication at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. His research using the Conversational Argument Coding Scheme goes back to his graduate school days where his thesis advisor was Dan Canary. Besides his work on interpersonal argument, his research covers topics including nonverbal communication, argumentation in televised political debates, argumentation theory, cross-sex friendship, compliance gaining in customer service encounters, and identity confirmation in personal relationships. Dr. Weger’s research appears in a variety of journals such as Communication Monographs, Communication Methods and Measures, Journal of Hospitality Marketing, Social Psychology, Argumentation, and Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

    Lesley A. Withers, PhD, is the Interim Associate Dean for the College of Communication and Fine Arts and a Professor of Communication at Central Michigan University. Her research interests are in the “dark side” of interpersonal communication (embarrassment, communication apprehension, aversive online behavior) and collaboration in virtual worlds (online social support; issues of identity, presence, pedagogical potential in Second Life®). Her research has been published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research, the Western Journal of Communication, and Personality and Individual Differences and she has presented at regional, national, and international conferences. Dr. Withers and her co-authors received the 2005 B. Aubrey Fisher Outstanding Article Award from the Western States Communication Association for their article, “AA online: The enactment of computer mediated social support.” She’s been interviewed about online anger and sharing secrets by CNN.com and about obscene gestures by National Public Radio.


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