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Interpersonal Communication/Social Influence

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Interpersonal Communication/Social Influence

Interpersonal communication focuses on examining the interactions between individuals, which may take the form of dyadic relationships (e.g., romantic partners, or provider/patient) as well as individuals within a social network (e.g., work, church, family and supportive others). Faculty members in our department have examined how interpersonal communication can be influenced by (a) the medium, such as computer-mediated communication and social media, (b) the process, such as deception, conflict, and psychological factors influencing persuasion and argumentation processes, and (c) the dynamics of interpersonal coordination, such as identity construction, self-presentation, and social support.

The social influence domain includes persuasion, compliance gaining, interpersonal influence, and societal change effects that may involve risk, crisis, political, and/or health campaigns within social and/or mass mediated contexts. Research typically investigates theory-driven approaches to various cognitive, affective, and motivational processes associated with how people think of, feel about, and respond to a range of influence experiences. Study within the department often focuses on the methods sources employ to manipulate targets in various contexts, as well as the means by which those targets resist, adapt to, and respond to such influence.

Typical Graduate Level Course Offerings

Comm 5213 Interpersonal Communication
Comm 5233 Communication and Social Change
Comm 5243 Language Perspectives of Communication
Comm 5353 Conflict Management
Comm 5393 Risk and Crisis Communication
Comm 5453 Social Influence
Comm 5553 Persuasive Communication Campaigns
Comm 5810 Special Topics in Communication
Comm 6233 Small Group Processes
Comm 6453 Seminar in Social Influence
Comm 6023 Communication Research Task Groups
Comm 6960 Directed Readings

Current Faculty with Research and/or Teaching Interests

Recent Dissertations in Interpersonal Communication/Social Influence

Machette, A. T. (2023). Examining the mediating role of sexual communication discrepancies. 

Haijing Ma (2021). The effects of controlling language, fear, and disgust on responses to COVID-19 vaccination promotion messages. 

Zachary B. Massey (2019). The solace of extremism: An examination of existential motivation and the persuasiveness of extreme groups. 

Recent Faculty and Graduate Student Publications in Interpersonal/Social Influence

Austin, J. A., Wong, N., & Owens, A. (2022). The hashtag heard around the world: Social media users’ perceptions and responses to the #MeToo hashtag. Atlantic Journal of Communication. Advance online publication. 

Banas, J. A. (2020). Inoculation theory. In D. R. Ewoldsen (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology. 

Banas, J. A., & Bessarabova, E. (forthcoming). Inoculation and Counterarguing. In B. Ivanov, K. Parker, and J. Compton (Eds.) The handbook of inoculation theory and practice. Wiley Blackwell Press.  

Banas, J. A., & Bessarabova, E. (forthcoming). Origins and History. In B. Ivanov, K. Parker, and J. Compton (Eds.) The handbook of inoculation theory and practice. Wiley Blackwell Press.  

Banas, J. A., Bessarabova, E., Penkauskas, M., & Talbert, N. (2023). Inoculating against anti-vaccination conspiracies. Health Communication, 1-9. Advance online publication.  

Banas, J. A., & Bessarabova, E., (2023). Employing inoculation theory to mitigate conspiratorial beliefs. In M. Miller (Ed.). The social science of QAnon: Understanding a new social and political phenomenon. Cambridge University Press. 

Banas, J. A., Bessarabova, E., & Massey, Z. B. (2020). Reducing prejudice via mediated contact: A meta-analysis. Human Communication Research, 46, 120-160. doi:10.1093/hcr/hqaa004  

Banas, J. A., Bisel, R. S., Kramer, M. W., & Massey, Z. (2019). The serious business of instructional humor outside the classroom: a study of elite gymnastic coaches’ uses of humor during training. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 47, 628–647.  

Banas, J. A., Dibble, J. L., Bessarabova, E., & Drouin, M. (2021). Simmering on the back burner or playing with fire? Examining the consequences of back burner digital communication among ex partners. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 24, 473-479.  

Banas, J. A., Keating, D. M., Palomares, N. A., Richards, A., Rains, S. A., & Joyce, N. (2022) When Machine and Bandwagon Heuristics Compete: Understanding Users’ Responses to Conflicting AI and Crowdsourced Fact-Checking. Human Communication Research, 48, 430-461. 

Barbati, J. L., Rains, S. A., Ivanov, B., & Banas, J. A. (2021). Evaluating classic and contemporary ideas about persuasion resistance in inoculation theory: Argument strength, refutation strength, and forewarning. Communication Research Reports, 38, 272-281.  

Bessarabova, E., Turner, M. M., Richards, A. S., (in press). Anger, efficacy, and message processing: A test of the Anger Activism Model. Southern Communication Journal.  

Bessarabova, E., & Massey, Z. B. (2023). The effects of death awareness and reactance on texting-and-driving prevention. Risk Analysis. 

Bessarabova, E., & Banas, J. A. (2023). Emotions and the QAnon conspiracy theory. In M. Miller (Ed.). The social science of QAnon: Understanding a new social and political phenomenon. Cambridge University Press.  

Bessarabova, E., Banas, J. A., & Bernard, D. R. (2020). Emotional appeals in message design. In D. O’Hair & M. J. O’Hair (Eds.), Handbook of Applied Communication Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.  

Bessarabova, E., & Massey, Z. B. (2020). Testing terror management health model and integrating its predictions with the theory of psychological reactance, Communication Monographs, 87, 25-46, doi:10.1080/03637751.2019.1626992  

Bostwick, E., Dunbar, N. E., & Johnson, A. J. (2022). The influence of risk, location, and relationship on refusing an event invitation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers of Communication, 7(742283). doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2022.742283 [open access] 

Bostwick, E. N., & Johnson, A. J. (2023). Stigma, storytelling, and adolescent parents' children: Nothing to prove. Lexington Press. 

Chiu, M. M., Oh, Y. W., Kim, J.-N., & Cionea, I. A. (2022). Serving the greater social good for personal gain: Effects of polite disagreements in online debates. Communication Research, 49(3), 451-473. 

Cionea, I. A., & Johnson, A. J. (2022). Conflict management on Facebook: Relationships between conflict styles, incivility, conflict tactics, and outcomes. In J. K. Jameson & M. F. Hannah (Eds.), Contemporary trends in conflict and communication: Technology and social media (pp. 123-138). De Gruyter. 

Cionea, I. A., Johnson, A. J., & Bostwick, E. N. (2019). Argument interdependence and its effects on serial argument goals and tactics in romantic relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36, 1975-1995. doi:10.1177/0265407518774933.   

Cionea, I. A., Piercy, C. W., Bostwick, E. N., & Wilson Mumpower, S. (2019). Argumentative competence in friend and stranger dyadic exchanges. Argumentation, 33, 465-487. doi:10.1007/s10503-019-09487-x 

Cionea, I. A., Wilson-Mumpower, S. V., & Bassick, M. (2019). Serial argument goals, tactics, and outcomes in long distance and geographically close romantic relationships. Southern Communication Journal, 84, 1-16. doi:10.1080/1041794X. 2018.1531915 

Dibble, J. L., Banas, J. A., & Drouin, M. (online 2021). Fanning the flames of back burner relationships electronically: Prevalence and implications for romances and well-being among adults. Atlantic Journal of Communication.  

Guan, M., Li, Y., Scoles, J. D., & Zhu, Y. (2023). COVID-19 message fatigue: How does it predict behavioral intentions and what types of information are people tired of hearing about? Health Communication, 38(8), 1631-1640. 

Guan, M., Jennings, F. J., Villanueva, I. I., & Jackson, D. B. (2022). Delineating antecedents and outcomes of information seeking upon exposure to an environmental video opposing single-use plastics. Environmental Communication, 16(4), 563-57. 

Guan, M., & So, J. (2022). Social identity theory. In E. Ho, C. Bylund, & J. van Weert (Eds.), The International Encyclopedia of Health Communication. Wiley. 

Guan, M., Han, J. Y., Shah, D. V., Gustafson, D. H. (2021). Exploring the role of social support in promoting patient participation in health care among women with breast cancer. Health Communication, 36(13), 1581-1589. 

Guan, M., & So, J. (2020). Tailoring temporal message frames to individuals’ time orientation strengthens the relationship between risk perception and behavioral intention. Journal of Health Communication, 25(12), 971–981. 

Johnson, A. J., & Bostwick, E. N. (2021). Arguing with family members about the 2016 Presidential Election. In D. Hample (Ed.), Local theories of argument (pp. 204-211). Routledge 

Johnson, A. J., Bostwick, E. N., & Cionea, I. A. (2019). Talking turkey: Effects of family discussions about the 2016 election over the Thanksgiving holiday. Journal of Family Communication, 19, 63-76. doi:10.1080/15267431.2018.1543688 

Johnson, A. J., Bostwick, E. N., & Morrisey, B. (2021) Arguing about social distancing and family relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 38(10), 2863-2885. 

Johnson, A. J., & Cionea, I. A. (2020). An exploratory mixed-method analysis of interpersonal arguments on Twitter. In J. Rosenbaum-Andre & G. Bouvier (Eds.), Twitter, the public sphere and the chaos of online deliberation (pp. 205-231). Palgrave Macmillan. 

Johnson, A. J., Cionea, I. A., Bostwick, E. N., Bassick, M. A., & Lindsey, N. J. (2019). Writing about serial arguments: The effects of manipulating argument perspective. In C. Winkler (Ed.), Networking argument (pp. 446-452). Routledge.  

Keating, D. M., Richards, A. S., Palomares, N. A., Banas, J. A., Joyce, N., & Rains, S. A. (2022). Titling practices and their implications in communication research 1970-2010: Cutesy cues carry citation consequences. Communication Research, 46, 1-22. (online) 

Kim, N, Leshner, G. M., & Miller C. H. (2022). Native Americans’ responses to obesity attributions and message sources in an obesity prevention campaign. Journal of Health Communication, published online,  

Lee, Y., Dunbar, N., Miller, C. H., Bessarabova, E., Jensen, M., Wilson, S. N., Elizondo, J., Burgoon, J., & Valacich, J. (2021). Mitigating bias and improving professional decision-making through digital game play. In J. Raessens, B. Schouten, J. Jansz, T. De la Hera Conde-Pumpido, M. Kors, & R. Jacobs (Eds.), Persuasive gaming in context. Amsterdam University Press. 

Li, Y., Guan, M., Hammond, P., & Berrey, L. E. (2021). Communicating COVID-19 information on TikTok: A content analysis of TikTok videos from official accounts featured in the COVID-19 information hub. Health Education Research, 36(3), 261-271. 

Ma, H., & Miller, C. H. (2022). “I felt completely turned off by the message”: The effects of controlling language, fear, and disgust appeals on responses to COVID-19 vaccination messages. Health Communication, 20, 1-10.  

Ma, H., & Miller, C. H. (2022). Threat type moderates agency assignment: A partial matching effect. Health Communication. Published online.

Ma, H. & Miller, C. H. (2021). The effects of agency assignment and reference point on responses to COVID-19 messages, Health Communication, 36(1), 59-73,

Ma, H., & Miller, C. H. (2020). Trapped in a double bind: Chinese overseas student anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Communication. 

Ma, H., Miller, C. H., & Wong, N. (2020). Don't let the tornado get you! The effects of agency assignment and self-construal on responses to tornado preparedness messages. Health Communication. DOI: 10.1080/10410236.2020.1712038 

Massey, Z., Wong, N., & Barbati, J. (2021). Meeting the trans(parent): Test of parasocial contact with transgender characters on reducing stigma toward transgender people. Communication Studies, 72(2), 232-250. 

MacDonald, R. A., &  Cionea, I. A. (in press). Does the rhyme chime?: Evaluating the persuasiveness of a rhyming weather message. In D. Hample (Ed.), Local theories of argument. Routledge. 

Machette, A. T., Morrissey, B. S., & Cionea, I. A. (2022). Development of the Sexual Communication Discrepancy Index. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 48(4), 376-391. 

Massey, Z., Wong, N., & Barbati, J. (2021). Meeting the trans(parent): Test of parasocial contact with transgender characters on reducing stigma toward transgender people. Communication Studies, 72(2), 232-250.

Miller, C. H. (forthcoming). Affect and resistance. In B. Ivanov, K. A. Parker, & J. Compton (Eds). The handbook of inoculation theory and practice. Wiley Blackwell.  


Miller, C. H. (forthcoming). How factionalism and conflicting worldviews threaten classical liberalism and democracy: A terror management theory perspective. In M. J. O’Hair & Woods, P. (Eds.), Communication and education: Promoting peace and democracy in times of crisis and conflict. Wiley Blackwell. 

Miller, C. H., Dunbar, N. E., Jensen, M. L., Massey, Z., Lee, Y-. H., Nicholls, S. B., Anderson, C., Adams, A. S., Elizondo Cecena, F. J., Thompson, W., & Wilson, S. N. (2019). Training law enforcement officers to identify reliable deception cues with an interactive digital game. International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 9, (3), 1-23. 

Miller, C. H., & Ma, H. (2021). How existential anxiety shapes communication in coping with the coronavirus pandemic: A terror management theory perspective. In H. D. O’Hair and M. J. O’Hair (Eds.), Communication Science in Times of Crisis. Wiley. (pp. 54-80). 

Miller, C. H., & Massey, Z. B. (2019). Meaning-making, communication, and terror management processes. In C. Routledge & M. Vess (Eds.), Handbook of terror management theory. San Diego: Elsevier (pp. 577-611). 

Miller, C. H., Massey, Z. B. Terror management theory perspectives on interpersonal and social influence. (2020) In H. D. O’Hair and M. J. O’Hair (Eds.), Handbook of applied communication research. NY: Wiley 

Miller, C. H., Massey, Z. B., & Ma, H. (2020) Psychological reactance and persuasive message design. In H. D. O’Hair and M. J. O’Hair (Eds.), Handbook of applied communication research. NY: Wiley 

Rains, S. A., Keating, D. M., Banas, J. A., Richards, A., & Palomares, N. A. (2020). The state and evolution of communication research: A topic modeling analysis of 20,000 journal article abstracts from 1918-2015. Computational Communication Research. 

Richards, A. S., Bessarabova, E., Banas, J. A., & Bernard, D. R. (2022). Reducing psychological reactance to health promotion messages: Comparing preemptive and postscript mitigation strategies. Health Communication,  37 (3), 366-374, 

Richards, A. S., Bessarabova, E., Banas, J. A., & Larsen, M. (2021). Freedom-prompting reactance mitigation strategies function differently across levels of trait reactance. Communication Quarterly Communication Quarterly, 69, 238-25. 

So, J., Ahn, J., & Guan, M. (2022). Beyond depth and breadth: Taking “types” of health information sought into consideration with cluster analysis. Journal of Health Communication, 27(1), 27–36. 

Sun, J., & Miller, C. H. (in press). The influence of avoidant attachment style on phubbing: The mediating roles of smartphone attachment and self-regulation. Journal of Human Behavior & Emerging Technologies. 

Sun, J., & Miller, C. H. (2023). Insecure attachment styles and phubbing: The mediating role of problematic smartphone use. Journal of Human Behavior & Emerging Technologies,  

Terui, S., Huang. J., Goldsmith, J., Blackard, D., Yang, Y., & Miller, C. H. (2020). Promoting transformative community change for equitable health: Peer education and intervention for pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis. Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives. 

Turner, M. M., Richards, A. S., Bessarabova, E., & Magid, Y. (2020). The effects of anger appeals on systematic processing and intentions: The moderating role of efficacy. Communication Reports, 33, 14-26, doi:10.1080/08934215.2019.1682175 

Wong, N. C. H., Massey, Z., Barbati, J., Bessarabova, E., & Banas, J. A. (2022). Theorizing prejudice reduction via mediated intergroup contact: Extending the intergroup contact theory to media contexts. Journal of Media Psychology, 34(2), 89-100.   

Wong, N. C. H. (2019). Injunctive and descriptive norms and theory of planned behavior: Influencing intentions to use sunscreen. Women’s Health and Complications, 2(1), 1-7.  

Zhao, X., Guan, M., Liang, X. (2022). The impact of social media use on online collective action during China’s COVID-19 pandemic mitigation: A social identity model of collective action (SIMCA) perspective. International Journal of Communication, 16, 85-106. 

Zhu, Y., Guan, M., & Donovan, E. (2020). Elaborating cancer opinion leaders’ communication behaviors within online health communities: Network and content analyses. Social Media + Society, 6(2), 1–13. 

Zhuang, J., & Guan, M. (2022). Modeling the mediating and moderating roles of risk perceptions, efficacy, desired uncertainty, and worry in information seeking-cancer screening relationship using HINTS 2017 data. Health Communication, 37(7), 897-908. 

Recent Funding in Interpersonal/Social Influence


Elena Bessarabova  -- Co-PI, "SaTC: CORE: Medium: Socio-Technical Approaches for Securing Cyber-Physical Systems from Weaponized Disinformation Attacks," Sponsor National Science Foundation, (Barker, K., PI) 2023-2025 – $600,000 – Funded  

Elena Bessarabova  -- Co-PI, “Opinion Spam in Digital Rulemaking: Techniques, Effects, and Interventions," National Science Foundation, EAGER, 2022-2024 ($300,000) – Funded  

Elena Bessarabova -- PI, “Securing Critical Networks from Weaponized Disinformation Attacks: Initial Surveys,” Oklahoma Aerospace & Defense Innovation Institute and Data Institute for Societal Challenges, 2022 ($18,975) – Funded  

Elena Bessarabova -- Research Collaboration Partner, “#Agents-Young People’s Agency in Social Media,” Academy of Finland Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics, research consortium at Jyväskylä University; interdisciplinary project (Vilma Luoma-aho, JSBE PI) 2019-2022 (€1,000,000) – Funded   

Claude Miller, Co-PI, “Peer Training and Intervention for Pre-exposure HIV Prophylaxis,” Waterhouse Family Institute, 2018-2020, ($10,000) – Funded