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Chapter 5 Interpersonal Communication

Verbal Communication

The actual words that are used in conversation

Language is symbolic

Words are arbitrary and have no meaning in themselves

Rules that influence Language

Phonological, Syntactic, Semantic, Pragmatic

Phonological Rules

how sounds are combined, how things are pronounced (i.e. tomAto, tomaato)

Syntactic Rules

ways that symbols can be arranged to create a new meaning (i.e. This soup makes me well when I am sick vs. This soup makes me sick when I am well.)

Pragmatic Rules

Tells us what interpretation of the message is appropriate in a given (relationship) context (i.e. "come here" boss vs. lover)


tells us what interpretation is appropriate in a given (spoken) context (i.e. "fly" that girl is fly vs. I will fly to Dallas next week)

Coordinated Management of Meaning Theory (CMM)

We use rules at several levels to create our own messages and interpret others' statements

Invalid Assumptions About Language

Words have only 1 definition
Words are what they symbolize
Words have specific referents
People and things do not change

Unraveling Periphrastic

Complicated ways on conveying the same thing ( section of petrified matter agglomerates no bryophytes)

Name 7 items that language impacts.

Naming and identity, credibility, status, affiliation, power, sexism, racism

Naming and Identity

• Hypothetical people with common names were given higher grades than unusual names
• Sexism- implying that males/females have superior traits and the opposite sex has inferior traits (policemen vs. police officers)
• Racism- Reflects a worldview that classifies members of one racial group as superior and others as inferior


• Dr. Fox; hired a guy (actor) and used made up words to college students and told him that he was amazing, asked college students what they thought of him- that he was smart because of the words that he used


• My Fair Lady- movie about a street vender who changes her language
• Is associated to attractiveness


• Convergence and divergence
• Convergence, mimicking behavior or language
• Diverge, don't like someone- do the opposite of what they are doing


Speech mannerism can affect its perception; in order to enhance perception people tend not use certain words and word patterns that show a lack of competence


stewardess vs. flight attendant, fireman vs. firefighter, secretary vs. administrative assistant


black market, blacklist, and blackball- negative connotation, while white is viewed positively

Ambiguous Language

more than one definition (i.e. "I want Michael Jackson to come because he has touched so many young people...")


ways of generalizing- Ex: "Marriage counselors are worthless"; "New Yorkers are rude"


saying something more politely or less bluntly
(i.e. Golden Years- old age, Sub-optimal- fail, Big boned- fat)

Relative Language

language depends on the person communicating, gains meaning by comparison

Static Evaluation

mistaken assumption that things are consistent
(Korzybsiki- dating)-Every time you have an assumption about somebody you write it down (i.e. "Maria IS bad"- she might be bad today, but she might be great tomorrow)

Language of Responsibility

It, But, I, You, We statements

"It" Statements

avoids responsibility- "___ bothers me when you don't call me"

"But" Statements

effect of canceling the thought that precedes it
"You're a great guy, ___ we need to break up"

"I" Language

more accurate and less provocative way to express a complaint.

3 Parts of "I" Language

1. The persons behavior
2. Your feelings
3. The consequences that the other behavior has for you
Ex: " I get embarrassed (feeling) when you talk about my bad grades in front of our friends (behavior) . I'm afraid they will think I'm stupid (consequence)."

"You" Language

Signals other- orientation when praising, sounds critical during confrontation

"We" Language

Signals concern for bother people involved; commitment and cohesiveness

Emotive Language

Seems to describe something, but really announces the speaker's attitude towards it ( if you approve, you say: thrifty, traditional, extrovert, cautious; if you don't approve: cheap, old-fashion, coward, loudmouth)

Content (Male vs. Female)

Work, movies/tv, sex, dating, appearance-Same amount (college students)
Females- (college) relationships, family, health, clothing, food, and reproductive matters
Males (college)- sports, hobbies, and activities

Reasons for Communicating (Male vs. Female)

Both use language to maintain and build relationships
Male-Male conversations- like talking to that person
Female-Female- needed, we need each other
Females directed toward nurturing the relationship
Males talk about trying to accomplish a task

Conversation Styles (Male vs. Female)

Females- intensive adverbs, emotional references and contradictions (focused on relationship)- I shouldn't tell you this but...
Males- use judgmental adjectives, directives, and "I" references (direct, to the point and task oriented)

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