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Interpersonal Communication Research Paper Topics

Interpersonal Communication Research Paper Topics

  • Comforting Communication
  • Communication and Relationship Rules
  • Communication Apprehension
  • Communicator Style
  • Dating Relationships
  • Deception Detection Accuracy
  • Deceptive Message Production
  • Disclosure in Interpersonal Communication
  • Environment and Social Interaction
  • Expectancy Violation
  • Eye Behavior
  • Facial Expressions
  • Friendship and Peer Interaction
  • Gestures and Kinesics
  • Imagined Interactions
  • Impression Management
  • Ingratiation and Affinity Seeking
  • Initial Interaction
  • Interaction Adaptation Theory
  • Interpersonal Attraction
  • Interpersonal Communication Competence and Social Skills
  • Interpersonal Conflict
  • Long-Distance Relationships
  • Marital Communication
  • Marital Typologies

Mediated Social Interaction

  • Negotiation and Bargaining
  • Online Relationships
  • Paralanguage
  • Politeness Theory
  • Power, Dominance, and Social Interaction
  • Reciprocity and Compensation in Interaction
  • Relational Control
  • Relational Dialectics
  • Relational Maintenance
  • Relational Schemas
  • Relational Termination
  • Relational Uncertainty

Relationship Development

  • Schemas, Knowledge Structures, and Social Interaction
  • Self-Presentation
  • Sex and Gender Differences in Interpersonal Communication
  • Sibling Interaction
  • Social Aspects of Goals
  • Social Exchange
  • Social Interaction Structure
  • Social Support in Interpersonal Communication
  • Uncertainty Management
  • Uncertainty Reduction Theory
  • Verbal Aggressiveness

Uncertainty in Interpersonal Communication

When individuals engage in social interaction with each other, they cannot be completely certain of their conversational partners’ current goals, emotional states, beliefs, attitudes, and future actions. Individuals also harbor uncertainties about how they should act toward their partners. These uncertainties are maximal when strangers meet, but uncertainties can also arise in close relationships of long duration. Uncertainty Reduction Theory (URT; Berger & Calabrese 1975) proposes that individuals must reduce their uncertainties to some degree in order to be able to fashion verbal discourse and actions that will allow them to achieve their interaction goals.

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URT has found purchase in explaining social interaction in intercultural (Gudykunst 1995) and organizational (Kramer 2004) communication contexts. Individuals may experience uncertainty with respect to their relationships with each other, and individuals may not necessarily be motivated to reduce their uncertainty when they anticipate experiencing negative outcomes by so doing.

Interpersonal Adaption

When individuals converse, they show strong proclivities to reciprocate each other’s verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Although the forces for reciprocity in social interaction are highly pervasive, there are conditions under which interacting individuals will show compensation in response to each other’s behaviors. Compensation occurs when a behavior displayed by one person is not matched in some way by another. A number of alternative theories have been devised to illuminate the conditions under which reciprocity and compensation are likely to occur, especially with respect to nonverbal behaviors. Although these theories differ in terms of their explanations for reciprocity/compensation, they share a common assumption that when expectations for nonverbal behavior are violated, individuals tend to experience arousal. Research comparing these theories has been inconclusive and has prompted the development of Interaction Adaptation Theory (Burgoon et al. 2010).

Message Production

Just as language is a tool for attaining everyday goals, social interaction is an instrument for goal achievement. Consistent with this proposition, constructivist researchers have endeavored to determine the characteristics of messages deemed to be effective for achieving a variety of goals, most of them concerned with persuasion. A more comprehensive and abstract message production theory labeled Action Assembly Theory (Greene 1997) has been developed to explain how individuals produce actions and discourse. Theories featuring such knowledge structures as scripts and plans have also been devised (Berger 1997). According to these Goal- Plan-Action (GPA) theories (Dillard et al. 2002), scripts and plans are hierarchically organized knowledge structures representing action sequences that will bring about the achievement of goals. Once goals are activated, these knowledge structures guide actions toward goal attainment.

Interpersonal communication plays a critical role in the development, maintenance, and deterioration of social and personal relationships. A central question researchers have sought to answer is why some relationships become closer over time while others grow distant and perhaps end. Social exchange theories have frequently been invoked to explain why relationship growth and deterioration occur (Roloff 1981). These theories suggest that individuals experience both rewards for and costs of being in relationships with each other. Favorable relative reward/cost ratios fuel relationship growth, whereas unfavorable ratios are associated with relationship deterioration. Relational dialectics researchers contend that the development of relationships is fraught with dialectical tensions that may serve to pull individuals in opposite directions simultaneously (Baxter & Montgomery 1996). Because tensions between these polarities shift over time, relationships are in a constant state of flux.

Deceptive Communication

Many interpersonal communication researchers recognize that deception is an integral part of social interaction. Many times ‘white lies’ are told to help co-interlocutors save face when potentially embarrassing circumstances arise in social situations. Two enduring questions concerning deceptive communication have attracted considerable research attention. One of these concerns the degree to which engaging in deception alters nonverbal behaviors; i.e. do truth tellers’ nonverbal behaviors differ systematically from those of individuals who are telling lies? Specific behaviors may be diagnostic of deceptive communication in specific individuals; however, no universal nonverbal indicator of deceptive communication has yet been identified. The second enduring question is the degree to which individuals are skilled at detecting deception. Research has shown that most individuals, including law-enforcement professionals, are not very adept at detecting deception.

Increasingly, social interaction is being accomplished through various communication technologies. These developments have prompted a concomitant increase in research aimed at understanding their potential individual and social effects. Research has sought to determine how computer-mediated communication (CMC) and face-to-face (FtF) interaction differ with respect the outcomes associated with their use (Walther 2010). Because text-based CMC filters out many nonverbal cues available to people engaged in FtF interactions, it is presumed that communication via textbased CMC is more task focused than is FtF communication. Although relatively cue-deprived, text-based CMC venues may be useful for initially encountering and screening potential friends and romantic partners, they apparently do not afford sufficient information for developing close relationships. Individuals who initially meet in the textbased CMC world usually elect to communicate with each other through other channels, e.g., phone and FtF encounters.


  • Baxter, L. A. & Montgomery, B. M. (1996). Relating: Dialogues and dialectics. New York: Guilford.
  • Berger, C. R. (1997). Planning strategic interaction: Attaining goals through communicative action. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Berger, C. R. & Calabrese, R. J. (1975). Some explorations in initial interaction and beyond: Toward a developmental theory of interpersonal communication. Human Communication Research, 1, 99–112.
  • Burgoon, J. K., Floyd, K., & Guerrero, L. K. (2010). Nonverbal communication theories of interaction adaptation. In C. R. Berger, M. E. Roloff, & D. R. Roskos-Ewoldsen (eds.), Handbook of communication science, 2nd edn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 93–108.
  • Dillard, J. P., Anderson, J. W., & Knobloch, L. K. (2002). Interpersonal influence. In M. L. Knapp & J. A. Daly (eds.), Handbook of interpersonal communication, 3rd edn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 425–474.
  • Greene, J. O. (1997). A second generation action assembly theory. In J. O. Greene (ed.), Message production: Advances in communication theory. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 151–170.
  • Gudykunst, W. B. (1995). Anxiety/uncertainty management (AUM) theory. In R. L. Wiseman (ed.), Intercultural communication theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 8–58.
  • Kramer, M. W. (2004). Managing uncertainty in organizational communication. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Roloff, M. E. (1981). Interpersonal communication: The social exchange approach. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
  • Walther, J. B. (2010). Computer-mediated communication. In C. R. Berger, M. E. Roloff, & D. R. Roskos- Ewoldsen (eds.), Handbook of communication science, 2nd edn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 489–505.

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  • v.11(2); Apr-Jun 2018

Interpersonal communication in healthcare

Cm chichirez.

* Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest, Romania

VL Purcărea

Taking into account that the medical practice and health systems have evolved considerably nowadays, medical establishments require the implementation of marketing guidelines to help maximize performance, with beneficial effects from the social, economic, and medical point of view, to differentiate from competitors.

Communication is a fundamental clinical skill that, if performed competently and efficiently, facilitates the establishment of a relationship of trust between the medical staff and the patient-customer, a truly therapeutic alliance.

In addition to the medical personnel’s competence and the facilities at the doctor’s disposal, the willingness manifested during consultation, kindness, openness and attention are offered to patients-customers. The way medical personnel responds to their needs and requests is an element that boosts performance, contributing to an increase in the prestige of the medical unit and the growing interest of patients-customers in it.

Health services’ marketing includes activities carried out for the purpose of development, placement, pricing, or promotion of medical services. Communication is a very important component of the marketing mix. It is the instrument through which an entity participates in the exchange of information with the various components of the business environment, informs about their presence and the services offered, to create a favorable attitude and stimulate consumers to purchase services [ 1 ]. Organizations that provide health services, medical personnel (doctors and nurses) and auxiliaries (nurses, administrative staff, security guards) are a distinctive element of the marketing mix, adding value in healthcare through the way they interact with customers. Besides the training of medical staff and medical advancements in the field of diagnosis and treatment, the human component is a very important factor, over 40% of the therapy's success being provided by the patient-doctor relationship [ 2 ].

In health, the tools of the communicational mix are based on an interpersonal communication. Interpersonal (inter-human) communication was the first human spiritual tool of the socialization process [ 3 ] and is defined by Floyd [ 4 ] as being the communication that occurs between two people in the context of their relationship and that, as it evolves, helps to negotiate and define the relationship. In his work “The psychology of communication. Theories and methods ”, Jean-Claude Abric [ 5 ] defines communication as “the ensemble of processes through which it carries out exchanges of information and of meanings between persons in a given social situation”. In the author’s opinion, “the communication cannot be conceived as a simple process of transmission, based on interaction, being always a transition between speakers: issuance and reception are simultaneous, the broadcaster being at the same time broadcaster and receiver and firstly broadcaster and receiver (the mutual is also valid)”. In his work “Language as a means of social power ”, Blakar [ 6 ] emphasizes that “the broadcaster is a creator who, through his message, provides a whole set of information with respect to his own person, to his vision of the object of communication and the social situation he wishes and perceives, which will be perceived, interpreted and evaluated by the interlocutor, causing reactions, commitment and blocking them”. Certo Samuel [ 7 ] recommends the receiver “to always remain open in relation to people who communicate and be careful not to convey any negative attitude through their communication behavior” and, as receivers, they should try to take into consideration the value of the message that they receive, without taking into account attitudes toward the source. Otherwise, many valuable ideas will be lost if they allow messages they receive to be influenced by personal feelings.

It should be considered that medical system communication takes place in an environment that is complex, where favorable and adverse factors coexist and continuously exchange places and importance. In medicine, communication has many forms and can be seen in various situations, the most important of them undoubtedly being that between patient-doctor, which provides much of the data necessary for the establishment of the diagnosis. Interpersonal communication is born through the combination of verbal forms (an oral and written language), nonverbal (gestures, mimics, posture, movement, appearance) and paraverbal forms (by voice attributes accompanying the word, such as intonation, the inflection of voice, tone, rhythm, verbal flow). It can be influenced by a number of factors [ 8 ]: - the degree of closeness or spatial proximity; - the limits and the extent of physical contact in these relationships; - the friendly or authoritative style of communication; - the exchange of glances that form visual communication; - the volume and pace of the interactions; - the dynamics of reciprocal self-development.

Taking into consideration the importance of the information content of patient-doctor communication (the diagnostic process, treatment), the emphasis is more on verbal communication in the medical system. Non-verbal and paraverbal forms are important from the perspective of their emotional effect and reliable capital formation and sympathy that must exist between the two sides, these forms being devoid of semantic and logical values.

In their works, Cosman and Tudose emphasize the elements of specificity of communication in medicine. In the healthcare system, the relationship between the two parts, medical personnel-patient, is much more complex, involving a higher-level therapeutic communication of the existential type through the basal level of the therapeutic level. The higher-level therapeutic communication of the existential type is involved in medical communication because the medical act interferes with the patient's destiny, connected in turn by elements of uncertainty and individual instability [ 9 ].

On the other hand, the position of the two entities, medical personnel-patient respectively is different and unequal. This relationship is established between members of two distinct social groups in terms of their prestige, power, and guidelines. Thus, the doctor has an extremely high status, given the level of abstract information and specialized orientation towards the profession his full authority and monopoly being admitted. The social role of the patient legitimizes its temporary and permanent vulnerability, being forced to ask for support, assuming the doctor's inability to solve the health problem. In this situation, the patient is the most disadvantaged person, being under the influence of physical and mental suffering, feeling the disease as a source of uncertainty and insecurity, while the doctor is seen as a person with multiple qualities, full of energy and sometimes with magical powers. If, for the former, the disease is a scientific and objective problem, for the patient it is an emotional and subjective problem [ 9 ].

Thus, the doctor-patient relationship becomes a role, an asymmetric and consensual relationship, the doctor having a position of superiority, being the active element seeking a solution for the patient suffering from a disease, with the patient being the passive element that recognizes the authority of the doctor.

Depending on the degree of involvement of each part, Talcott Parsons [ 10 ] distinguishes between three situations in the doctor-patient relationship: - activity-passivity, in which the doctor is active and the patient is passive; - managing-cooperation, in which the patient follows the medical advice; - mutual participation, in which the doctor guides the patients through helping themselves.

George Ionescu [ 11 ] specifies that it is necessary to rebalance the doctor-patient relationship and to establish a communion through a mutual effort of understanding. Thus, the doctor will have to understand the subjective condition of the person in front of them and treat the patient regardless of their state, as an existence with a high degree of subjectivity. In turn, the patient will have to understand the meaning of the therapeutic act, to accept it with conviction and accept its efficiency and usefulness.

Under the given circumstances, the relationship between the two parts must, in time, become a special and true one, because the glue is a disease, which determines a particular behavior. The way each part will play their role can create the premises for a satisfactory and efficient relationship, or for a suspicious, frustrating and disappointing one [ 12 ]. Communication facilitates the establishment of a doctor-patient trust relationship, a real therapeutic alliance, with a purpose of improving the health status of the patient and the doctor's prestige, generally grown in the private and medical unit.

Another feature of the communication within the doctor-patient relationship is the fact that this relationship is direct, being carried out face to face, without the need of an intermediary and a meaningless formalism. The patient comes to the doctor with the hope that he will be understood and that his suffering will relieved, that the doctor will be competent and will deal with his personal health. Between the two, there is a continuous exchange of information, which will lead to the achievement of the objectives proposed and to finding out some answers on the state of the disease and its evaluation, the therapy proposed for its elimination and practical intervention procedures. This type of connection provides a real physical power over the medical team and the patient's psyche. [ 13 ].

Studies in the medical services domain noted that interactions between patients and healthcare professionals affect both patients' satisfaction and perceived quality of the medical services that they receive, and can contribute to a better performance of the medical unit [ 2 ] [ 14 ].

Communication in the medical act is an active process of transmission and reception of information, and, at least one of the partners of communication must have active listening skills, understanding of the message, and answering some questions for interpretation of non-verbal language, motivating the speaker to support the conversation [ 15 ].

In the medical domain, communication represents a fundamental clinical skill that involves the establishment of the therapeutic relationship, understanding the patient's perspective, exploring thoughts and emotions, and guiding them towards improving their health. The quality of the information obtained by the doctor during consultations is closely linked to the communication skills of the doctor and the patient. In literature, it is mentioned that the listening, explaining, and empathizing skills of the clinician can have a profound effect on the patient’s health status and functioning, as well as on their satisfaction regarding health care in the medical establishment [ 16 ] [ 17 ].

In the communication with the patient, listening and time (availability) are elements that must maintain attention to the speaker, regardless of the affective status, mode of cognitive operation. “Knowing to listen” is the first rule of the dialogue [ 18 ]. A number of rules have to be met for the listening to be efficient and profitable for the doctors. It needs to be active, total, empathic, receptive and with a certain criticism [ 19 ].

First, the listening must be active, which involves besides mental participation (attention and concentration) also a physical mobilization. For example, a too relaxed body posture makes memorizing and understanding difficult, while relatively uncomfortable positions generate a vigilant status propitious for good listening.

At the same time, listening must be total, meaning that in addition to receiving and understanding the verbal message, particular attention must be given to the non-verbal component (gesture signals). Thus, if the two partners of dialogue are positioned at the same level they will communicate better. In a dialogue, it is advisable to adopt an open, patient, and calm attitude amongst the conversation partners. Eye contact must be maintained, but not unnatural. Facial expression must be monitored so that the patient does not feel concerned, frustrated, or unmotivated. The listener must be empathic. Starting with self-awareness and continuing with other sightings, this cognitive and affective process allows the doctor to understand what the patient thinks and feels, to encourage them to express themselves openly and unrestrained. Empathy involves not just a mere sympathy or intuition of the patient's emotions, but identification with their feelings, with their biological and psychological status [ 20 ].

At the same time, the listening must be responsive (easy to pass over disturbing situations and treat the troublesome assertions of the speaker objectively) and involve some criticism (exaggerated tolerance towards the speaker will generate a form of dishonesty which will adversely affect the relationship).

In achieving effective communication, the medical staff must demonstrate availability towards patients - giving them some time to be scheduled and attended to according to the objectives and priorities, with the maximum performance. The availability displayed by the doctor during the consultation, the openness, attentiveness and helpfulness of the staff toward the patient and his family members are considered to be intrinsic attributes for any medical service supplying establishment and they must be maintained at such a high level of performance to differentiate them from other units [ 21 ].

The speaker expects a verbal message to provide a solution to an uncertainty or to confirm an expectation. This message must be accurate, fair, and appropriate to the situation of communication, informative, clear and prompt, respectful, without being unnecessarily formal, and without forgetting that the tone of voice matters [ 19 ]. Thus, any information offered to the patient removes a certain degree of uncertainty, and clarity is an example of a healthy way of thinking, as well as a proof of respect and a way to assume responsibility. Tangled and confusing answers affect the relationship. Located in front of the patient, the doctor aims to define the disease and to organize all the stages of the establishment of diagnosis and treatment. The oscillation, hesitation, or excessive delay in offering a solution has a negative influence on their relationship, the reaction being an essential condition of its effectiveness.

The establishment of the diagnosis and treatment, even though it remains the main purpose of the doctor-patient relationship, must be realized according to the patient’s need to be informed about items complementary to those of clinical importance, but from a medical perspective. If the patient is misinformed, they will be uncooperative, confused, dissatisfied, the context in which any medical act becomes stressful [ 22 ]. Communication with the patient must be suitable to their status, insight and possibilities associated with elements of support of a positive relationship. The acquirement of strong communication skills, necessary for the purpose of establishing real specialized therapeutic alliances, requires profound medical knowledge to diagnose and treat disease, the ability to gather information from the patient, interpersonal skills to respond to the feelings and concerns of the patient and the ability to create and maintain a therapeutic relationship as a concrete offer of information and medical education [ 15 ].

The professional competence of the doctor is demonstrated through in depth theoretical and practical knowledge and applicative ability in a creative activity of individualized, personalized, and human care.

The good philosophical training, psychological and pedagogical approaches require that the doctor be able to analyze the multitude of information and feelings, mindsets and reactions so that they can diagnose not only the health state but also the patient's typology level, their cultural and mental state. At the same time, they must reveal the ability to recognize subtle ways through which patients are trying to communicate their issues and concerns and actively investigate the ideas and their opinions on the health status. The doctor’s communication skills must continuously be learned and improved.

In the context of the communication relationship between the medical staff and the patient-customer, compliance with professional ethics is required, the two parts being owed to their status of collaborators and not a distinction between the vanquished and the victors. In the first half of the twentieth century, the Spanish professor B. Masci [ 23 ] developed the most elevated moral, medical document with the rules of medical ethics and deontology, which will always be respected and that sums up as it follows: 1. Honor your patient regardless of age. 2. Offer the same gratitude and attention to the poor as to the rich. 3. Respect your noble mission, beginning with your very own person. 4. Let your fatigue be enlightened by faith and love. 5. Never humiliate the sick, who is so humiliated by their illness. 6. Never forget that the secret entrusted to you about a disease is something holy that cannot be betrayed, offered to another person. 7. Do not see in your patients' worries a burden, a chore. 8. Never show incongruence at the success of the treatment on a sick person. 9. Not only benevolence but also science is required in the care of the sick. 10. Do not discuss medical prescriptions with the patient and never contradict them. You take away their confidence in medicine; you destroy their hope of healing.

The efficiency of communication is dependent on what type of relationship is established between the two partners, and the type of relationship, in turn, depends on the personality of each one of them [ 5 ]. The doctors determine their personality traits, having the freedom to choose their way of action so that the relationship with the patient is beneficial for both sides. In the healthcare system, communication becomes increasingly more of a therapeutic technique, a clinical skill that creates fundamental relationships and that can provide benefits to those involved, considerations for which the appropriation of high communicative skills must be a priority for health professionals.

Book cover

International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction

HCI 2015: HCI International 2015 - Posters’ Extended Abstracts pp 91–96 Cite as

Social Media Use and Impact on Interpersonal Communication

  • Yerika Jimenez 2 &
  • Patricia Morreale 3  
  • Conference paper
  • First Online: 01 January 2015

31k Accesses

2 Citations

2 Altmetric

Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS,volume 529)

This research paper presents the findings of a research project that investigated how young adult interpersonal communications have changed since using social media. Specifically, the research focused on determining if using social media had a beneficial or an adverse effect on the development of interaction and communication skills of young adults. Results from interviews reveal a negative impact in young adult communications and social skills. In this paper young adult preferences in social media are also explored, to answer the question: Does social media usage affect the development of interaction and communication skills for young adults and set a basis for future adult communication behaviors?

  • Social media
  • Social interaction
  • Interpersonal communications
  • Young adults

Download conference paper PDF

1 Introduction

Human interaction has changed drastically in the last 20 years, not only due to the introduction of the Internet, but also from social media and online communities. These social media options and communities have grown from being simply used to communicate on a private network into a strong culture that almost all individuals are using to communicate with others all over the world. We will concentrate on the impact that social media has on human communication and interaction among young adults, primarily college students. In today’s society, powerful social media platforms such as Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (IG), and Pinterest have been the result of an evolution that is changing how humans communicate with each other. The big question we asked ourselves was how much has social media really impacted the way that humans communicate and interact with each other, and if so, how significant is the change of interpersonal interaction among young adults in the United States today?

The motivation behind this research has been personal experience with interaction and communication with friends and family; it had become difficult, sometimes even rare, to have a one-on-one conversation with them, without having them glancing at or interacting with their phone. Has social interaction changed since the introduction of advanced technology and primarily social media? In correlation with the research data collected in this study, it was concluded that many participants’ personal communication has decreased due social media influence encouraging them to have online conversations, as opposed to face-to-face, in-person conversations.

2 Related Work

The question of how social media affects social and human interaction in our society is being actively researched and studied. A literature review highlights the positive and negative aspects of social media interaction, as researchers battle to understand the current and future effects of social media interaction. A study done by Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, suggests that the brain may interpret digital interaction in the same manner as in-person interaction, while others maintain that differences are growing between how we perceive one another online as opposed to in reality [ 1 ]. This means that young adults can interpret online communication as being real one-on-one communication because the brain will process that information as a reality. Another study revealed that online interaction helps with the ability to relate to others, tolerate differing viewpoints, and express thoughts and feeling in a healthy way [ 2 , 3 ]. Moreover a study executed by the National Institutes of Health found that youths with strong, positive face-to-face relationships may be those most frequently using social media as an additional venue to interact with their peers [ 4 ].

In contrast, research reveals that individuals with many friends may appear to be focusing too much on Facebook, making friends out of desperation rather than popularity, spending a great deal of time on their computer ostensibly trying to make connections in a computer-mediated environment where they feel more comfortable rather than in face-to-face social interaction [ 5 ]. Moreover, a study among college freshman revealed that social media prevents people from being social and networking in person [ 6 ].

3 Experimental Design

This research study was divided into two parts during the academic year 2013–2014. Part one, conducted during fall semester 2013, had the purpose of understanding how and why young adults use their mobile devices, as well as how the students describe and identify with their mobile devices. This was done by distributing an online survey to several Kean University student communities: various majors, fraternity and sorority groups, sports groups, etc. The data revealed that users primarily used their mobile devices for social media and entertainment purposes. The surveyed individuals indicated that they mainly accessed mobile apps like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram, to communicate, interact, and share many parts of their daily life with their friends and peers.

Based on the data collected during part one, a different approach and purpose was used for part two, with the goal being to understand how social media activities shape the communication skills of individuals and reflects their attitudes, attention, interests, and activities. Additionally, research included how young adult communication needs change through the use of different social media platforms, and if a pattern can be predicted from the users’ behavior on the social media platforms. Part two of this research was conducted by having 30 one-on-one interviews with young adults who are college students. During this interview key questions were asked in order to understand if there is a significant amount of interpersonal interaction between users and their peers. Interpersonal interaction is a communication process that involves the exchange of information, feelings and meaning by means of verbal or non-verbal messages. For the purposes of this paper, only the data collected during spring 2014 is presented.

4 Data Collection

Through interviews, accurate results of the interaction of young adults with social media were collected. These interviews involved 30 one-on-one conversations with Kean University students. Having one-on-one interviews with participants allowed for individual results, first responses from the participant, without permitting responses being skewed or influenced by other participants, such as might occur in group interviews. It also allows users to give truthful answers, in contrast to an online or paper survey, as they might have second thoughts about an answer and change it. The one-on-one interviews consisted of ten open-ended questions, which were aimed to answer, and ultimately determine, how social media interaction involuntarily influences, positively or negatively, an individual’s attitude, attention, interests, and social/personal activities. The largest motive behind the questions was to determine how individual communication skills, formally and informally, have changed from interacting with various social media platforms. The interviews, along with being recorded on paper, were also video and audio-recorded. The average time for each interview was between two to ten minutes. These interviews were held in quiet labs and during off-times, so that the responses could be given and recorded clearly and without distraction (Fig.  1 ). A total of 19 females and 11 males participated, with ages ranging from 19 to 28 years old.

figure 1

Female participant during one-on-one interview

After conducting the interviews and analyzing the data collected, it was determined that the age when participants, both male and female, first began to use social media ranged between 9 to 17 years. It was found that, generally, males began to use social media around the age of 13, whereas females started around the age of 12. The average age for males starting to use social media is about 12.909 with a standard deviation of 2.343. For females, the average age is 12.263 with a standard deviation of 1.627. From this, we can determine that males generally begin to use social media around the age of 13, whereas females begin around the age of 12.

After determining the average age of when participants started using social media, it was necessary to find which social media platforms they had as a basis; meaning which social media platform they first used. MySpace was the first social media used by twenty-three participants, followed by Facebook with three users, and Mi Gente by only one user, with two participants not using social media at all. It was interesting to find that all of the participants who started using Myspace migrated to Facebook. The reasoning provided was that “everyone [they knew] started to use Facebook.” According to the participants, Facebook was “more interactive” and was “extremely easy to use.” The participants also stated that Myspace was becoming suitable for a younger user base, and it got boring because they needed to keep changing their profile backgrounds and modifying their top friends, which caused rifts or “popularity issues” between friends. After finding out which platform they started from, it was also essential to find out which platform they currently use. However, one platform that seemed to be used by all participants to keep up-to-date with their friends and acquaintances was Instagram, a picture and video-based social media platform. Another surprising finding was that many users did not use Pinterest at all, or had not even heard of the platform. After determining which social media platforms the users migrated to, it was essential to identify what caused the users to move from one platform to another. What are the merits of a certain platform that caused the users to migrate to it, and what are the drawbacks of another platform that caused users to migrate from it or simply not use it all?

4.1 Social Interaction Changes

For some participants social interaction had a chance for a positive outcome, while others viewed it in a more negative aspect. The participants were asked if their social interactions have changed since they were first exposed to social media (Table  1 ). One participant stated that “it is easier to just look at a social media page to see how friends and family are doing rather than have a one-on-one interaction.” As for people’s attitudes, they would rather comment or “like” a picture than stop and have a quick conversation. On the other hand, another participant felt that social media helped them when talking and expressing opinions on topics that they generally would not have discussed in person. Moreover, the participants are aware of the actions and thing that they are doing but continue to do it because they feel comfortable and did not desire to have one-on-one interactions with people.

The participants were also asked to explain how social media changed their communication and interactions during the years of using social media (Table  2 ). The data shows that participants interact less in person because they are relating more via online pictures and status. For other participants, it made them more cautious and even afraid of putting any personal information online because it might cause problems or rifts in their life. On the contrary, some participants stated that their communication and interaction is the same; however, they were able to see how it had changed for the people that are around them. A participant stated that “internet/social media is a power tool that allows people to be whatever they want and in a way it creates popularity, but once again they walk around acting like they do not know you and ‘like’ your pictures the next day.”

5 Discussion

The data illustrated in this paper shows how much the introduction and usage of social media has impacted the interaction and communication of young adults. The future of interaction and communication was also presented as a possibility, if the current trend continues with young adults and social media or online communities. This raises the notion of possibly not having any social, in-person interaction and having all communication or interaction online and virtually with all family and friends.

6 Conclusion

Referring back to the question asked during the introduction: how much has social media impacted the way we communicate and interact with each other? After reviewing all the findings, seeing the relationship individuals have with their mobile phones, and comparing social media platforms, it is clear that many young adults have an emotional attachment with their mobile device and want interaction that is quick and to the point, with minimal “in-person” contact. Many young adults prefer to use their mobile device to send a text message or interact via social media. This is due to their comfort level being higher while posting via social media applications, as opposed to in-person interaction. To successfully and accurately answer the question: yes, social media has had a very positive and negative effect on the way we communicate and interact with each other. However, how effective is this method of “virtual” communication and interaction in the real world?

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Jimenez, Y., Morreale, P. (2015). Social Media Use and Impact on Interpersonal Communication. In: Stephanidis, C. (eds) HCI International 2015 - Posters’ Extended Abstracts. HCI 2015. Communications in Computer and Information Science, vol 529. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-21383-5_15

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