Interpersonal communication can be conceptualized as a dyadic interaction, typically face-to-face, where the interactants create meaning through verbal and nonverbal behavior in the pursuit of personal and/or social goals. Verbal communication refers to the use of language to generate meaning; nonverbal communication includes intentional and unintentional behaviors that are assigned meanings by interactants. Interactants may pursue individual-level goals (e.g., persuading another to do something) or mutually shared goals (e.g., exchanging information for decision-making purposes or participating in mutually enjoyable conversations).

This entry first describes the characteristics of interpersonal communication that distinguish it from other forms of communication. It then discusses the importance of context in contemporary research in interpersonal communication. Next, it describes how research methods have failed to capture the complexity of interpersonal communication processes. ...

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