The State of the Art of Interpersonal Communication Research: Are We Addressing Socially Significant Issues?
The task of writing a “state of the art” essay focused on interpersonal communication research is a formidable one. The writer confronts multiple obstacles, the first of which is to decide how broadly to cast the review. Initially, my penchant for completeness prompted me to consider writing an omnibus evaluation of the literature. However, with a research area as diverse and large as that focused on interpersonal communication and being mindful of page limitations, there was the distinct possibility I would overlook important bodies of research, or that I would give short shrift to the key issues in some specializations. Fortunately, selected volumes of The Communication Yearbook (e.g., Burleson, 1995), the two editions of The Handbook of Interpersonal Communication (Knapp & Miller, 1985, 1994), and of course, this volume contain excellent reviews of specialized research areas that render unnecessary a single review focused on each and every one of our specializa-tions. Hence, I chose to cast this chapter at a high level of abstraction in which I identify issues facing all interpersonal communication researchers regardless of their specialization. Although I mention specific research programs, I do
so only to provide illustrations of my points rather than to imply that they embody the entirety of interpersonal communication scholarship.