Instructor: Dr. Marcia D. Dixson

Office hours: TR 2:00 - 4:00

and happily by appt.

Office: NF 230B

Phone: 481-6558 Email:

COM 597 The Dark Side of

Relational Communication

Fall, 2013



















Back to Syllabus
  Link to pdf of syllabus

In the first edition of the Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication (1994), Dr. Steve Duck, in his chapter, “Strategems, Spoils, and a Serpent’s Tooth: On the Delights and Dilemmas of Personal Relationships,” (this chapter is uploaded into Blackboard if you want to take a look) makes several insightful remarks:

Potential issues with previous relationship research (at that time):

“ . . . relationships have been treated as normal and healthy only to the extent that negativity is absent from them (Prager, personal communication, Aug. 10, 1992)” (p. 4).

“ . . . the underlying assumption is not only that relationships should be nice but also that people are nice:” (p. 5).

“ . . . not all rosy aspects of relationships are experienced as positive: For some people, intimacy and closeness are terrifying” (p. 5).

“. . . existing theories of relationships appear to work well enough, merely because they are based on the sorts of research that choose to study the kinds of relationships in which they work well!” (p. 16).

Narrowness of research perspectives

“. . . mountainous compilation of studies about self-disclosure . . . those studies that have investigated it in real life (Dindia, Fitzpatrick, & Kenny, 1989; Duck, Rutt, Hurst, & Strejc, 1991) both find that it occurs only 2% of the time . . .” (p. 17).

“observers who call for a more fully differentiated view of the true nature of daily experience of relationships in a world without sophomores (Allan, 1989; Duck, 1991)” (p. 8).

“researchers instead devote whole journals to competent and interesting communication, in defiance of their own experience of faculty meetings” (p. 13).

Broadening our view - your assignment for Thursday: Watch a TV show/movie w/relationships; read a fictional novel or short story; talk with a friend/family member about a relationship. Write a brief (paragraph or two) report of anything relevant to dark relationship behaviors/communication you saw/heard. 

“A moment’s reflection on personal experience, or a day spend reading a novel instead of the Journals of Personality and Social Psychology or Human Communictaion Research, will lead almost any reader to some critical parts of relationship life that have received so little attention that it is scientifically embarrassing and contrasts badly with the mounts of effort put into the other overstudied molehills of life.” (p. 14).

“These issues can be separated into: (a) those that affect the occurrence of relationships in the first place . . . (b) those that affect the chances of continuance of a relationship, and c) those that affect the enjoyment of relationships that are already well established and essentially not likely to be dismantled wholesale as the result of minor currents and eddies.” (p. 15)