Measuring social interaction

John Patrick Caughlin, Erin D. Basinger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter concerns the measurement of concepts related to interpersonal communication. We begin with a discussion of general measurement principles and argue that there are multiple useful ways to conceptualize and measure interpersonal communication. We then review strengths and weaknesses of common measurement techniques, including self-reports, observations, in-depth interviews, and physiological measures. Because every measurement technique has limitations with respect to assessing interpersonal communication, we argue that it is often useful for multiple techniques to be used either within or across studies. We conclude with a discussion of special considerations for designing measures in studies of interpersonal communication. Specifically, interpersonal scholars should pay particular attention to: (a) the need to consider a timeframe that provides an adequate sampling of ongoing interaction; (b) the possibility that new communication technologies are changing the nature of interpersonal communication and what should be observed, even in face-to-face settings; (c) the pitfalls of using measures designed for other purposes to assess interpersonal communication constructs; and (d) the potential for confusing statistical information for definitive proof of validity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInterpersonal Communication
PublisherWalter de Gruyter GmbH
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783110276794
ISBN (Print)9783110276428
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Interpersonal interaction
  • Measurement
  • Operationalization
  • Reliability
  • Research methods
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring social interaction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this