Relationship Analysis

Assignment Description and Grading Criteria
Objective: To conduct an in-depth analysis of an interpersonal relationship.
Rationale: Establishing and maintaining satisfying and effective interpersonal relationships can improve the quality of our personal and professional lives. Textbook Reference: Chapters 1-9.
Assignment Description: A 4-5 page, typed (double-spaced, 12-point font, 1-inch margins on all sides, excluding the title page) paper that analyzes a current or past relationship involving you and one other person. The relationship may be a positive/successful or negative/unsuccessful one (but keep in mind that most relationships are a combination of those dimensions). See the course calendar for your section for the due date of the RAP.
Potential relationship partners include, but are not limited to, the following:
A romantic partner (boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse)
A close friend (same-sex or cross-sex)
A roommate
An immediate family member (parent, step-parent, sibling)
An extended family member (grandparent, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew)
A co-worker or boss
Conceptual/Theoretical Approaches
The textbook provides numerous conceptual/theoretical approaches for your analysis, depending on the specific relationship you choose to analyze. Suggestions are presented below:
Chapter 1 (preliminaries to human communication)
Elements of human communication: In what areas do you typically have breakdowns in communication?
Principles of human communication: How did the principles impact communication effectiveness?
What factors affected communication competence?
Chapter 2 (addresses how perceptions of the self, others, and the environment affect communication and relationships):
Self-concept and self-esteem
Self-disclosure. Self-disclosure is discussed at considerable length, including the factors that influence self-disclosure, the rewards and dangers of self-disclosure, and guidelines for self-disclosure. Issues regarding self-disclosure could provide key evidence to support any of the theoretical/conceptual approaches listed in Chapters 7 and 8 below.
Differences in one or more stage of perception
Problems in the impression formation process
Problems in the impression management process
Chapter 3 (addresses listening)
Listening barriers
Styles of effective (see Styles of Effective Listening Behavior) and ineffective listening (see Table 3.4—Some Problem-Causing Way of Responding in Listening)
The topic of lying is also covered in this chapter
Chapter 4: Verbal Messages.
See the principles of verbal messages
See the principle of cooperation, the principle of peaceful relations, the principle of face-saving, the principle of self-denigration, the principle of directness, and the principle of politeness.
Address the issue of lying
See disconfirmation and confirmation, two important communication patterns within interpersonal relationships
Consider the effects of gender on interpersonal communication (see Understanding Theory and Research).

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Address the effective use of verbal messages
Chapter 5: Nonverbal Messages.
Relationship between verbal and nonverbal communication
Communication functions served by nonverbal communication
Channels of nonverbal communication.
Chapter 6: This Chapter addresses the process of conversation, including feedback and feedforward, conversation management, conversational strategies (the disclaimer and the excuse), and critical conversational skills, including, dialogue, mindfulness, flexibility, cultural sensitivity, metacommunication, openness, empathy, positiveness, immediacy, interaction management, and other-orientation. In numerous studies addressing the issue of communication competence, the ability to manage a conversation is best predictor of communication satisfaction.
Chapter 7 (focuses primarily on romantic relationships, but can be applied to all types of relationships):
Knapp’s model of relationship stages (see Table 7.1): You might analyze how a relationship “came together” and/or “came apart.” You need not analyze every stage—focus on those most critical in the relationship you have chosen to analyze.
The six-stage relationship model (see Figure 7.1). This is a condensed version of the Knapp model. Again, you may focus on how the relationship came together during the contact, involvement and intimacy stages, how it came apart in the repair, deterioration, and dissolution stages, or some combination of those stages.
If you choose to analyze an online relationship, see Table 7.2 (causes of relationship deterioration) for online relationship stages.
Attraction theory: Using attraction theory you might discuss what factors brought and keep you together.
Using a rules theory approach, you might analysis the extent to which you and your partner adhere to 3-4 of the eight rules identified by Baxter.
Relational dialectics theory argues that people in a relationship experience dynamic tensions between pairs of opposing motives or desires: Closedness-openness, autonomy-connection, and novelty-predictability. Select 2-3 of these dialectics and apply them to your relationship.
Social penetration theory (see Figure 7.2): This theory focuses on how communication increases in depth and breadth as the intimacy of a relationship intensifies. Analyze this process in your relationship, explaining why you and your partner felt comfortable with increases in communication depth and breadth.
Social exchange theory claims that you develop relationships that will enable you to maximize your profits, which are calculated by subtracting the costs of remaining in a relationship from the rewards of remaining in a relationship. We intuitively assess our relationships in this manner on a consistent basis. An analysis of a relationship using social exchange theory would begin with a general assessment of your satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the relationship, and use the cost-benefit analysis as a means of illustrating why you hold a specific level of satisfaction/dissatisfaction.
Equity theory expands on social exchange theory by focusing on the relative rewards and costs of both persons in a relationship. Your analysis using equity theory would determine whether you are in an equitable relationship—that is, one in which each person derives rewards that are proportional to his or her costs.

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The dark side of interpersonal relationships: Relationships sometimes have “dark” sides that are characterized by verbal and emotional abuse, physical abuse, and/or sexual abuse. These behaviors typify an unhealthy relationship; however, people sometimes stay in unhealthy relationships for a variety of reasons. If you choose this theme, we hope that you are describing a past relationship. If it describes a current relationship, your analysis may be the impetus for you to terminate that relationship. Keep in mind that if you describe patterns of abuse that threaten your physical well-being, your instructor will be obliged to discuss the relationship with you and refer you to an appropriate professional.
Chapter 8 (focuses primarily on friendships but can be applied to all types of relationships):
We typically select friends who will help to satisfy our basic growth needs. Using the five values we look for in friends, analyze the extent to which one of your friends meets these values. You need not address all five needs.
Friendship and Communication I: Analyze how and why the depth and breadth of your communication has changed during the development of your friendship (see the section on social penetration theory in Chapter 7).
Friendship and Communication II: Analyze the relational dialectics in your friendship (see Chapter 7).
Friendship and Communication III: Analyze your friendship using social exchange theory (see Chapter 7).
Friendship and Communication IV: Analyze your friendship using equity theory (see Chapter 7).
Love types: Analyze the extent to which you and your partner conform to the six types of love. What is your predominant love type? Your partner’s? How compatible are they? Stages of friendship: Analyze how your friendship developed from initial contact and acquaintanceship through casual friendship to close and intimate friendship.
Families and Communication: The text identifies four general communication patterns that characterize interpersonal relationships within families. To what extent do these different patterns describe your communication with a specific family member?
Chapter 9 (focuses on interpersonal conflict)
Principles of conflict: How did content and relationship issues affect your conflict? What were the positive and negative aspects of your conflict? How did context affect your conflict? What conflict styles did you and your partner use in your conflict?
Preliminaries to conflict: How did you and your partner prepare for the conflict? What did you and your partner do after the conflict? What factors influenced your choice of conflict styles? To what extent did you follow the stages of conflict management?
Conflict management strategies: How would you describe you and your partners’ conflict management strategies?
Grading Criteria
The introduction immediately included a clear, definitive, and compelling thesis statement directly related to a selected theoretical/conceptual approach from the textbook that provided direction for the entire paper, a clear preview of the main points of the paper, and contained no extraneous or superfluous information. Excellent introductions begin immediately with a strong thesis statement that is declarative and takes a point of view. Use the theoretical /conceptual framework you select as a frame of reference. Follow your thesis statement with a preview of your main points. Your thesis statement should be compelling; that is, it should pique the interest of the reader and provoke an enthusiastic response that makes the reader look forward to reading the paper. This will help keep you focused on the thesis of the paper, and provides the reader with a clear set of expectations for what is to follow. Avoid the temptation to include extraneous, superfluous information to your introduction.
The paper addressed a manageable number of clearly-stated main points, and paragraphs of the paper fully and coherently developed a clearly-stated main idea that was referenced in the preview and was directly related to the thesis statement. Make certain that the first sentence of each paragraph is a clearly stated main point and that you develop each paragraph completely. Make sure that each paragraph is directly related to your thesis statement and reflects one of the main points presented in your preview. In a 4-5-page paper it is possible to cover 2-3 main points thoroughly. The purpose of this paper is not to discuss how a variety of interpersonal communication issues were relevant. The purpose of this paper is to provide an in-depth analysis of a of the 2-3 main ideas that are/were most significant in your relationship.
The paper provided a genuine analysis (rather than a mere description) of the selected interpersonal relationship, and provided specific, contextualized examples of interactions to support claims made about the relationship. While a detailed description of interactions is necessary to characterize a relationship, a critical analysis must go beyond simply describing events by providing explanations (the why), interpretations (the meaning), and/or consequences (the effect/outcome) of those events.
To sufficiently support a main idea, evidence must be specific and contextualized. Don’t merely say that “Joe spends a lot of time judging me.” Such a statement is an inference. Inferences need to be supported with behaviors. Give specific examples of when Joe judged you: “When Mary suggested that we go to a play at the Seratean Center, Joe scoffed and stated ‘That’s a stupid idea. Plays are boring.’” These examples provide specific behaviors that Joe exhibited in specific circumstances.

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The paper demonstrated creative insight about the analyzed relationship and about interpersonal relationships in general. The textbook and the theoretical/conceptual approaches to interpersonal relationships provide you with considerable background on the study of interpersonal relationships. Incorporate key terms from these readings into your paper. This criterion also focuses on the level of insight your paper demonstrates. Your paper should demonstrate that you have engaged in reflective thinking about the interpersonal communication. Readers of a creative paper will find themselves thinking “I hadn’t thought about that” or “I never looked at it that way.” Creative insight is typically best generated in analyses that examine relationships in their complexity.
The paper was clearly and coherently organized, written in a clear and concise manner, and was free of spelling and grammatical errors. Writing a good preview will help you fulfill this criterion in a competent manner. Each main idea of your paper should follow logically from the preceding main idea so that the paper flows freely and the reader can anticipate what comes next. This criterion focuses on the sentence structure of your paper. Write simple, direct, active sentences, and when you write compound or complex sentences (like this one!), be sure to use appropriate punctuation patterns and connectors (and, or, but). Also make sure you avoid sentence fragments and run-on sentences that often occur when one writes the same way he or she speaks. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. The most common spelling and grammatical errors often occur when a paper is a first draft written at the last minute.

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