Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Retrospective Information

In regards to my topic of interdisciplinary tensions between communication and psychology, I believe that using an academic blog is extremely beneficial for a few reasons:

Firstly, procrastination can sometimes take priority when researching for a paper. By incorporating an academic blog, however, as I find pieces of evidence I believe are relevant to my topic, I post them and reflect on how it contributes to my paper. By the time the actual piece has to be written, I have an entire collection of thoughts, ideas, and analysis that have already been documented. With this method, I will not scramble at the last minute to try and find legitimate research and analyze the information based on a due date. I take time in gathering research I think is appropriate to prove my topic for a paper, and I truly believe that is because I use a blog.

Secondly, I really enjoy looking at other peoples' blogs to see their topics and ideas. I have typically found in previous writing classes that everybody seems to just "show up," listen to the Professor lecture, and turn in a stapled packet every couple of weeks. If students do interact, it is for brief amounts of time in the classroom. With the academic blog, however, I felt a a new feeling of interaction with my fellow classmates outside of the classroom; by commenting and suggesting possible research ideas, I was able to give and receive useful input.

I think that academic blogs are definitely beneficial and I recommend them to any upper-division writing classes!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Why Are There So Few Communication Theories?

Just when I thought my research was complete regarding the interdisciplinary tensions between psychology and communication, I found an interesting article by communication scholar Charles Berger. In "Communication Theories and Other Curios (Chataqua: Why Are There So Few Communication Theories?)", he offers reasons regarding the scarcity of communication theory because of historical legacies, methodological fixations, risk aversion, and self-selection.

Similar to previous blog posts and articles I have found, Charles believes that smaller numbers of communication theory exist because of "influences emanating from several other disciplines" (103). On a different note, however, he mentions specific reasons regarding graduate studies: "students being socialized in the field of communication are strongly encouraged to take course work in 'relevant' cognate areas... what has been sorely neglected is recognition of these interdisciplinary forays into home-grown theories of communication" (103-04). Furthermore, like Gary Radford's viewpoint concerning communication as an applied science, "if one views the communication research enterprise merely as an application, then there is no necessity for researchers to develop their own theories of communication" (103-04). If no individuality or unique ideas exist within communication, and it is only being used to support other disciplines, how will new information be discovered? It does not seem likely that relevant information will blossom. In addition to communication not being recognized as an independent discipline, the concern is also motivation to actively research.

In addition to historical reasons mentioned above, Berger also explains that even though a methodological approach of "evaluating someone else's hypotheses" has been examined within communication research, "[it] does not necessarily produce insights about communication that are commensurate with the levels of hyperbole demonstrated by their advocates" (105). Even more, "to become a well educated communication researcher is to familiarize one's self with the appropriate body of theory in related disciplines to to learn to use methodological techniques well" (106). The standards of furthering academic knowledge and research within communication seem less committed and require methods that don't institute unique individual ideas. This contributes to communication not being recognized as an independent, respectable discipline; if ideas from other subjects are being used as sole support and evidence for another subject, the point of incorporating new ideas is pointless. They are not original and barely introduce relevant information that could further academic knowledge.

Besides historical legacies and methodological reasoning, risk aversion is another reason that communication has been disregarded as a legitimate area of study. Berger explains that "the construction of a theory is a high risk venture" due to the "potential for presentation that [can] undermine one's theoretical thinking, especially in the public of domain of journals and books" (107). In terms of methodological reasoning, "it is less risky to base a research career on testing others' theories than it is to create, disseminate, and test one's own theory" (107). Communication scholars may be more concerned with their reputation and ego rather than their contribution to academic study; case in point, if communication researchers are not willing to take risks in discovering new academic avenues, recognition as a true, independent discipline will still be out of reach.

The last reason why communication theories are limited in number is due to self-selection. Berger claims that "persons who select themselves into graduate communication programs are generally those who are not motivated to develop communication theory... [they] see their education primarily as a pathway to enterprises such as teaching, organizational consulting activities, and becoming market researchers" (108). In addition to communication researchers methodologically using other theories as primary reasoning and support for their own theories, the fact that many students are hesitant to explore limitless possibilities of knowledge through theory contributes to reasons why communication is still disregarded as an accredited subject. Many students believe that the purpose of attending college is to earn the necessary skills within their discipline to eventually get a job that provides a comfortable standard of living. The small number of graduates who do choose to study theory have attitudes and educational methods that do not seem to be successfully progressive in furthering knowledge, so the entire process seems deferred.

Since beginning my research, I believe that psychology should not be to "blame" for the lack of recognition that communication has received. Instead, however, some aspects and approaches to communication theory need to be changed in order for the future of academic knowledge to really take flight. Instead of using methodological methods for support, communication theorists should resist the fears of taking chances and publish their ideas regardless. I truly believe that if we do not risk anything, we risk even more by not knowing what could have happened. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for research in communication theory!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Clusters of Communication

Today as I was researching I came across the article "Theory in Communication" which discusses a viewpoint regarding the "tendency towards integrating various points of view [about communication studies] into a single, interlaced 'field' theory to account for all systems of [the discipline]." In other words, instead of identifying the various sub-divisions of study within communication (such as Information, Linguistic, and Behavioral theories among others), specific theories are categorized as one title: communication theory.

Even though there is no comparison to psychology throughout the article, "Theory in Communication" still reinforces my argument that communication takes a "second" seat compared to other disciplines. I believe this is because theories and research done throughout the field are relatively new (mid twentieth century) compared to other social science disciplines like psychology and sociology which originated in the mid to late nineteenth century. It takes time to develop a discipline to the point where legitimate studies and research can uncover new theories and viewpoints that further academic knowledge. Communication has definitely contributed valuable information to the social sciences, but needs more time to confirm and uncover more findings to make it as "credible" as psychology or sociology.

Because of this viewpoint toward communication, I can see the frustration with Gary P. Radford towards psychology. He has contributed numerous articles, books, and papers regarding communication studies and theories, and it seems that he does not receive the recognition that he deserves. Like Ken Sereno stated in his "Introduction to Communication" lecture, psychology uses communication as a second discipline only to prove its own theories and research.

In terms of interdisciplinary studies, communication and psychology need to be recognized as two independent disciplines with equal weight and acknowledgment. Competition and hostility, however, take a front-row seat in determining the attitudes of academic study between the two disciplines; it contributes to the disregard for communication only as a supportive discipline, communication scholars' anger and resentment because of such disrespect, and the overall notion that communication is less credible. The only situation where I have witnessed the incorporation of communication and psychology working together positively is the business venture, Psychology of Communication. I believe this business is likely using both disciplines because of a profit-motive, and not to further academic knowledge! Hopefully communication can be respected and valued as an equal subject so research can evolve.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Exciting News! Psychology and Communication Incorporated into Useful Company!

My previous post from earlier this morning describes the bitter hostility that exists between communication and psychology. As I was scanning Google News, however, I discovered a refreshing article that not only incorporates both of the disciplines, but announced a new business venture that equally uses communication and psychology!

Psychology of Communication, a new company based out of Washington D.C., has developed a training workshop program for positions in mid to upper level management that incorporates psychology and consciousness. The program "assists managers in getting to the root causes of their communication restraints," and "provid[es] core tools to advance [peoples'] communication skills."

Another component to the business is the desire to help employees keep their positions and find the problems if they leave their specific workplace. Surprisingly, employees typically "do not leave their positions because of the company; rather, they leave their managers due to the lack of constructive communication." Furthermore, "according to Randstad's 2007 survey, a positive employee-supervisor relationship is as important to retention as it is to productivity."

I find this article to not only be beneficial for my research about communication and psychology, but also because Psychology of Communication is a real world, applicable example of how these two disciplines are working together. Even more, the company stems beyond academic research and theory outside of the classroom. The components of skillfully communicating combined with the consciousness that determine our behavior are actively used together to achieve a higher goal: to effectively manage a company. Unlike previous communication researchers I have come across, Tara Hanley, president of the company, holds a Masters degree in psychology, but additionally has experience in counseling to educate clients about effective communication strategies; the bitterness that most researchers within both fields have does not exist, and her successful business is proof of the benefits of incorporating viewpoints of both subjects.

Psychology of Communication is a fantastic example of interdisciplinary studies applying to real-world scenarios. They attempt to address and fix a problem to make an individual in the professional world more competent to communicate effectively. The elements of one's personal psyche along with effective communication techniques are combined to only benefit the client; there is no competitive behavior or unnecessary hostility. This is one great step into the future and hopefully theoretic researchers can follow this strategy by seeing the advantages!

Link to the Psychology of Communication website:

Link to the Google News Article:,209163.shtml

Why Does Hostility Exist Between Communication & Psychology Researchers?

After researching why such a competitive notion exists between researchers in communication and psychology studies, I was able to find legitimate reasoning in my own communication course through the Annenberg School For Communication at USC.

My COMM200 (Communication As a Social Science) professor, Ken Sereno, lectured that animosity exists between the two disciplines because "most scholars in other disciplines, most prominently psychology, claim to study communication as a secondary process." Furthermore, "[communication is studied] as a means of testing [psychologists’] theories; they do not study communication as a primary discipline." Because communication is sometimes not recognized as a legitimate independent discipline, a hostile opinion is formed against psychology. Communication researchers like Gary P. Radford take the time to publish works that demean psychological principles and research compared to communication studies. The fact that "psychologists’ purpose in studying communication lacks further research and development for communication theory" is irritating and bothersome to communication researchers.

Another important point about the negative viewpoints among researchers in communication and psychology is from sociologist Stan Kaplowitz. In his publication, "The State of Social Psychology: Issues, Themes, and Controversies," he describes an extremely important point stating that "[we often] inappropriately view alternative theories as competitive rather than complimentary."

All together, the attitude towards psychologists regarding the respect of communication as a single and independent discipline should be acknowledged. Instead of using communication as a secondary discipline to test their theories, both communication and psychology should incorporate their ideas to further research and academic knowledge. The fact that opposing theories are a form of competition is ridiculous, considering the fact that the purpose of research is to understand our world. When other factors interrupt this quest for knowledge, further research is stalled and halted.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Benefits of Interdisciplinary Research

Despite Gary P. Radford's negative opinion regarding the overlap of psychology and communication, there are also positive reasons and benefits within interdisciplinary research.

In the article, "Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences," Dr. Leon Eisenberg and Dr. Terry C. Pellmar believe that interdisciplinary research is mandatory in "order to understand the entire human organism." The doctors further their viewpoint by discussing the real-world benefits of applying interdisciplinary research.

The beginning of the work introduces the topic of interdisciplinary studies with an interesting example relating to the study of plate tectonics. Both doctors state that with the incorporation of "geologists, oceanographers, palemagnetists, seismologists, and geophysicists, the ability to forecast earthquakes advances greatly." By selectively choosing one group of study, we lose the academic richness that could lead to further research and knowledge. I agree with Dr. Eisenberg and Dr. Pellmar because having a variety of viewpoints can possibly provide a better understanding of the subject at hand.

In terms of psychology and communication, researchers and scientists within both fields should try the the "plate tectonics" method and incorporate all biological, trait, and personality factors. According to both doctors, "we will simply not have a complete understanding of behavior of biological processes by studying [biology and behavior] separately." Furthermore, it is unfortunate that hostility between the two disciplines exists like Radford stated in his paper. Instead of competing for evidence to prove certain theories, I believe it would be much more effective if psychology and communication actively collaborated to further research and ultimately try to achieve academic truth within human behavioral studies.

Despite the competition that exists, Eisenberg and Pallmar believe that interdisciplinary research has a real-world applicable aspect; "the increasing diversity in the population generates a need for interdisciplinary research to understand the multi-faced biological, psychological, and social issues that are generated." Even more, because both doctors specialize in neurobiological studies, they believe that "current advances in clinical and behavioral research, if better integrated with research in molecular biology, neurochemistry, and other neuroscience research, will have a substantial effect on numerous health-related problems."

Even though these doctors specialize in neuroscience, the key idea of interdisciplinary research is incredibly useful. I believe it is helpful to look at other examples within other disciplines to see how these effects can be positive, applicable, and lead to further academic knowledge. If researchers within communication and psychology are able to see firsthand how other disciplines overlap, their viewpoints and willingness for furthering academics might change.

Also, from the research that I have found, it is interesting to note that many communication scholars are mainly the scientists that hold hostility and resentment towards psychology; I have yet to find examples of psychologists who hold the same feelings towards communication studies. The question is, why? I will have to research and find out!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Controversies Between Communication and Psycholgoy Researchers

After researching many areas regarding the relationship between Communication and Psychology studies, I have found that controversies are dominantly between the researchers themselves. From basic research between the two disciplines, they both borrow popular theories to prove points, attempt to further research, and grasp knowledge as to why humans behave they way they do. However, instead of using one another's ideas to further academic ideas, the battle becomes a stubborn game in subjective viewpoints, biased criticisms, and the battle between biological and trait theories as to who is correct.

In the essay "Overcoming Dewey's False Psychology: Reclaiming Communication for Communication Studies," by communication Professor Gary P. Radford, he continually criticizes the overlap of psychology and communication and suggests that "communication must be reclaimed as the central mode of explanation in the field study it is named for." One of his primary arguments is the Information Processing Perspective that stems from World War II when technological advances prompted psychological studies to view humans in a "machine-like fashion." He believes that human beings can not be categorized as functioning machines because we are nothing like computer processors, machines, or anything else man-made. Our cognitive capacities can not be predicted or answered like an equation. We can not objectively analyze the consciousness of the human mind.

In terms of Gary's research, I think his work is a contribution to communication studies that will lead in a direction that will not benefit further academic knowledge and study. Instead of criticizing psychological viewpoints or theories, I believe it would be more beneficial to research psychological facts to support communication and incorporate new ideas. If more knowledge is used between disciplines, we can be exposed to multiple viewpoints and ultimately achieve as much informative knowledge as possible. Additionally, the primary purpose for interdisciplinary research is to fill in the gaps that certain disciplines might be missing. Having multiple perspectives gives insight to areas that lack in information and direction.