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Language Arts & Disciplines Psycholinguistics

Face-to-Face Dialogue

Theory, Research, and Applications

by (author) Janet Beavin Bavelas

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Jun 2022
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2022
    List Price

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Face-to-face dialogue is our basic form of language use. It is, and always has been, the only form of language use that spans all cultures and societies. Face-to-Face Dialogue: Theory, Research, and Applications focuses on the unique combination of features that make face-to-face dialogue the fastest, most precise, and most skillful activity that ordinary individuals do together.

Writing for an inter-disciplinary readership, Bavelas draws on her research program of over three decades to reveal the unique features of face-to-face dialogue. Unlike written or mediated forms, face-to-face dialogue uses both speech and co-speech gestures and also permits rapid-even simultaneous-exchanges. This book demonstrates the importance of focusing on interactions rather than individuals and on specific multi-modal acts rather than all nonverbal communication. Bavelas's mixed research methods begin inductively, leading to experiments with qualitative measures. Second-by-second microanalysis uncovers details of how a dialogue works. By focusing on communication as joint action, Face-to-Face Dialogue refocuses the conversation around the science of human communication, with realizable practical applications for researchers and professionals alike.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Janet Beavin Bavelas was a Professor of Psychology at the University of Victoria, Canada, from 1970 to 2005, when she became Professor Emerita, doing full-time research and writing on both basic and applied topics. She is the co-author of a seminal work, Pragmatics of Human Communication, with Paul Watzlawick and Don D. Jackson, and publishes journal articles and book chapters in several disciplines. Her honors include election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the International Communication Association.

Editorial Reviews

"Janet Bavelas is a true expert on face-to-face dialogue, and in this book she gives us a master class on the topic. She takes us beyond speaking and listening into the 'space between'-into the dialogue itself. She takes us beyond transcriptions of talk into the microscopic timing and meaning of speech and gestures-both inside and outside the lab. She helps us appreciate what it really takes to understand people speaking face-to-face."

--Herbert H. Clark, Albert Ray Lang Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, Stanford University

"Since co-authoring the seminal Pragmatics of Human Communication in the 1960's, Professor Bavelas has been investigating how face-to-face dialogue observably works, moment by moment and utterance by utterance. n this book, she summarizes a career's worth of rigorous research on that topic, dispelling many longstanding myths about interpersonal communication along the way. The reader will be amazed at how efficiently and meaningfully the participants in a face-to-face conversation can collaborate to build and shape their mutual understandings. This book will be equally at home on the shelves of researchers and practitioners alike."

--Peter De Jong, Ph.D., MSW, co-author with Insoo Kim Berg of Interviewing for Solutions, Professor of Sociology and Social Work Emeritus, and mental health therapist