Interaction Process Analysis

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TECHNIQUE. The American social psychologist Robert F. Bales (1916- ) developed the interaction process analysis approach to study behavior in small groups where observers of the group interaction process record the actions of each of the group member's responses into one of 12 categories: shows solidarity - the target person raises others' status, gives help, gives rewards; shows tensionrelease - the individual laughs, jokes, or shows satisfaction; shows agreement - the person indicates passive acceptance, understanding, or compliance; gives suggestion - the person gives directions, or implies autonomy for others; gives opinion - the person gives evaluation, analysis, feelings, or wishes; gives orientation - the individual gives information, repeats, confirms, or clarifies information; asks for orientation - the person asks for information, confirmation, or repetition of past information; asks for opinion - the person asks for evaluation, analysis, or expression of feeling; asks for suggestion - the person asks for direction or possible ways of action; disagrees - the individual shows passive rejection or withholds help; shows tension - the person asks for help or withdraws from the situation; shows antagonism - the person deflates the status of others, and defends or asserts himself. The researcher may combine some of the 12 categories in certain ways and, thereby, define and elaborate on various subsets of interaction "climates." For example, in defining a social-emotional climate as "positive," categories 1-3 would score highest; task climate is "neutral" when categories 4-9 score highest; and a "negative" social-emotional climate is defined by high scores in categories 10-12. Also, by combining the scores in certain categories, one may quickly identify and analyze various types of specific issues (such as problems of communication, evaluation, control, decision-making, tension-reduction, and reintegration) in a group interaction situation. When the interaction process analysis data is organized according to "initiators" and "targets," one obtains a "matrix;" when it is organized according to "acts," one obtains a "profile;" and when it is organized according to "time," one obtains a "phase sequence." Further analyses of the summary forms of organization indicate certain regularities of group interaction (e.g., "matrices" show a tendency for group members to reach a balance regarding the relative amount of activity they initiate and receive; "profiles" reveal a tendency for attempted answers to out-number their related questions and for positive reactions to out-number their related negative reactions; and "phase sequences" reveal progressive shifts from emphasis on the problem-orientation to emphasis on the problems of evaluation and control). Typically, protocol analyses of the interaction process analysis technique reveal that two major types of group leader emerge in the interactive group: a "task-oriented specialist," and a "social-oriented specialist," where the group's leadership role is shared, mostly by the two individuals who fill such "specialist" roles. Bales is the author and inventor, also, of the "System for the Multiple Level Observation of Groups" (SYMLOG) which is a field theory emphasizing the multiple contexts in which people live; SYMLOG has been employed successfully in the following training and developmental areas: individual coaching/counseling; leadership; management/organization; human resources; strategic planning; organizational culture; program evaluation and refinement; market research/customer relations; team development; global/cross-cultural work force development; and family/group counseling. See also COMMUNICATION THEORY; DECISIONMAKING THEORIES; DEINDIVIDUA-TION THEORY; GROUP MIND PHENOMENON; GROUPTHINK PHENOMENON; LEADERSHIP, THEORIES OF; ORGANIZATIONAL, INDUS-TRIAL, AND SYSTEMS THEORY. REFERENCES

Bales, R. F. (1950). Interaction process analysis: A method for the study of small groups. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

(1988) The SYMLOG practitioner: Applications of small group research. New York: Praeger. Hare, A. P. (1992). Groups, teams, and social interaction: Theories and applications. New York: Praeger.

INTERACTIVE ACTIVATION MODEL OF LETTER PERCEPTION. This model describes perception resulting from excitatory and inhibitory interactions of detectors for visual features, letters, and words. According to the interactive activation model of letter perception, a visual input excites detectors for visual features in a display, and for letters consistent with the active features; letter detectors, in turn, excite detectors for consistent words. The model, along with its computersimulation form, proposes that active word detectors mutually inhibit each other and send feedback to the letter level and, thereby, strengthen activation as well as facilitating the perception of a word's constituent letters. The model demonstrates the "perceptual advantage" for letters-in-words over that of unrelated contexts, and is consistent with the basic findings concerning "word advantage;" also, the model facilitates perception for letters in pronounceable pseudowords as well as regular words. Thus, the interactive activation model indicates that context aids the perception of target letters as they are processed in the perceptual system (the contextual enhancement effect), in addition to accounting for rule-governed performance in situations where there are no apparent or actual rules present. See also HIERARCHICAL MODEL OF WORD IDENTIFICATION; INFORMATION/INFORMATION-PROCESSING THEORY; PERCEPTION (I. AND II.), THEORIES OF; TRACE MODEL OF DISTRIBUTED MEMORY AND SPEECH PERCEPTION; WORD-SUPERIORITY EFFECT. REFERENCES

An interactive activation model of context effects in letter perception:

I. An account of basic findings. Psychological Review, 88, 375-407.

An interactive activation model of context effects in letter perception:

II. The contextual enhancement effect and some tests and extensions of the model. Psychological Review, 89, 60-94.

INTERBEHAVIORAL THEORY. Interbe-havioral theory, or "interbehaviorism," is a naturalistic and behavioral system of psychology developed by the American psychologist Jacob Robert Kantor (1888-1984) that attempts to indicate the appropriate way of dealing with different scientific concepts. Interbe-

haviorism rejects traditional mental fictions ("mentalism") that result from humans operating and reacting in a dualistic (mind-body) culture, as well as rejecting most of the other hypothetical entities so popular in mainstream psychology. Interbehavioral theory asserts that there is no scientific basis for imaginary constructs, such as "executive" or "storage" centers of the mind/brain, and "psychological events" are considered to be part of nature and not apart from nature. In Kantor's approach, the behaving organism may be viewed as a stimulus object where it interacts with other behaving organisms so that the action of each is considered to be coordinate, reciprocal, and mutual. In interbehavioral theory, emphasis is placed on a field approach and rationale where the setting and conditions surrounding the interaction or interbehavior of the organism and other stimulus objects is paramount. Similar to the discipline of ecology - where analyses are made of the relationships of organisms to their environment and to one another -interbehavioral theory views the joint activity of organisms and their environments as a "system" or "field" where the interaction of the various complex and interdependent factors constitute a "psychological event" for the organism. In particular, interbehavioral theory rests largely on the principle that "present events are a function of antecedent events;" also, it relies only on observable entities where past events - even though not now observable - were observable at one time and, therefore, are not merely imaginary phenomena. Several of the distinct features of "psychological events" - as theorized by the inter-behaviorist - include the following: they are historical and show a greater specificity than biological events; they show integration and variability; they are modifiable and show inhibition as well as delayability. Additionally, the interbehaviorist distinguishes among the concepts of object, stimulus object, response function, and stimulus function; for instance, an object, as such, has no psychological significance until it begins to participate in a "psychological event;" also, different response configurations may serve equivalent functions and even the same response configuration may serve different functions. Essentially, interbe-havioral theory, or interbehavioral psychol ogy, is distinguished by the following characteristics: it abandons mind-body dualism; it adopts a naturalistic approach; it advances a field theory paradigm that requires detailed analyses and variables-specifications involved in the field; and it distinguishes psychological from physiological data. See also FINAL THEORY; LEARNING THEORIES/ LAWS; LEWIN'S FIELD THEORY; SKINNER'S DESCRIPTIVE BEHAVIOR/OPER-ANT CONDITIONING THEORY. REFERENCES

Kantor, J. R. (1924/1926). Principles of psychology. 2 vols. New York: Knopf. Kantor, J. R. (1933). A survey of the science of psychology. Bloomington, IN: Principia Press.

Kantor, J. R. (1958). Interbehavioral psychology. Bloomington, IN: Principia Press.

Kantor, J. R. (1963). The scientific evolution of psychology. Chicago: Principia Press.

Kantor, J. R. (1971). Aim and progress of psychology and other sciences. Chicago: Principia Press. Kantor, J. R. (1982). Cultural psychology. Chicago: Principia Press.


INTERFERENCE THEORIES OF FORGETTING. Interference theory states that forgetting occurs because similar memories interfere with the storage or retrieval of information. Interference is an active theory of forgetting; without interfering events there is no forgetting. An early functionalist's view of the conditions that affect the transfer and forgetting of verbal materials is provided by the American psychologist John Alexander Mc-Geoch (1897-1942), who accepted two major laws of forgetting and transfer: the law of context, which states that the degree of retention of material, as measured by performance, is a function of the similarity between the original learning situation and the retention situation; and the law of proactive and retroactive inhibition, which states that the retention of material is a function of activities occurring prior to, and subsequent to, the origi nal learning (cf., perseveration theory of G. Muller and A. Pilzecker - refers to the consolidation of memory where the preservation of a neural process is viewed as necessary for a permanent trace to be established; thus, a new experience creates neural activity in the brain and, if the event is to be remembered, a process that changes the brain must occur). The evolution of hypotheses regarding similarity effects in retroaction and transfer is traced by G. Bower and E. R. Hilgard (1981): the early experiments, demonstrating retroactive inhibition and the possible role of similarity as a factor (e.g, J. A. McGeoch); E. Robinson's somewhat crude dimensional hypothesis, which led to a series of experiments that revealed multiple sources and kinds of intertask similarities requiring a generalization more complex than the Skaggs-Robinson hypothesis (E. Skaggs and E. Robinson); C. Osgood's synthesis (via his transfer and retroaction surface), incorporating the results of transfer and retroactive interference; and E. Martin's proposed "component transfer surfaces" to compensate for Osgood's simplistic synthesis. This type of succession of hypothesized generalizations, according to Bower and Hilgard - with an interplay between data, analytical criticism, and theory - demonstrates a maturing functional analysis, as well as indicating some potential frustrations of a func-tionalistic approach. The most serviceable theory of forgetting that has emerged from laboratory experiments is the interference theory that is connected to the functionalists' analysis of negative transfer and interference. The interference theory is an "association" theory; that is, its basic primitive concept is an associative bond, or functional connection, between two or more elements where elements may be ideas, words, situational stimuli, or responses. Changes in interference theory have occurred over the years. For example, L. Postman's formulations may be compared with J. McGeoch's earlier statements where new concepts have been added, unsupported conjecture dropped, and new experimental methods devised to measure more exactly the relevant dependent variables. One major shift in interference theory consists of the powerful role assigned to proactive sources of interference in forgetting. The history of research on verbal interference shows several subtheories of interference. In the 1930s, a viable theory of interference was the independence hypothesis, which suggested that interfering responses compete at recall, and the strongest one in the competition is the one that actually occurs. In a retroactive interference paradigm where the learning of material A and B is followed by the recall of A, the decrement in recall of A was explained by the dominance of B. The successor to the independence hypothesis was the unlearning hypothesis, which holds that the decrement in A at recall is due to the fact that the learning of B brings about the extinction of A in part. Later, there is the differentiation hypothesis/theory of differential forgetting (McGeoch, 1942), which asserts that interference reduces the discriminability, or differentiation, of the material where the learning of B reduces the discriminability of A, and decreases its availability at recall (cf., generalization-differentiation theory; Gibson, 1940; Tighe & Tighe, 1968). The early studies of interference used "meaningless" materials such as nonsense syllables or randomly unrelated words as information to be learned. However, recent research provides evidence that similar interference processes operate in the learning and forgetting of meaningful text materials (e.g., single sentences and interrelated sets of sentences or paragraphs) as well. See also ASSOCIATION, LAWS/PRINCIPLES OF; FORGETTING/MEMORY, THEORIES OF; FUNCTIONALISM THEORY; INHIBITION, LAWS OF; SKAGGS-ROBIN-SON HYPOTHESIS; TRANSFER OF TRAINING, THORNDIKE'S THEORY OF. REFERENCES

Muller, G., & Pilzecker, A. (1900). Experimentelle beitrage zur lehre vom ge-dachtnis. Zeitschrift fur Psychologie, Ergbd. I.

Skaggs, E. (1925). Further studies in retroactive inhibition. Psychological Monographs, 34, No. 161. Robinson, E. (1927). The "similarity" factor in retroaction. American Journal of Psychology, 39, 297-312. McGeoch, J. A. (1932). Forgetting and the law of disuse. Psychological Review, 39, 352-370.

Gibson, E. (1940). A systematic application of the concepts of generalization and differentiation to verbal learning. Psychological Review, 47, 196-229. McGeoch, J. A. (1942). The psychology of human learning. New York: Longmans, Green. Osgood, C. (1949). The similarity paradox in human learning: A resolution. Psychological Review, 56, 132-143. Underwood, B. (1957). Interference and forgetting. Psychological Review, 64, 49-60.

Underwood, B., & Postman, L. (1960). Extra-experimental sources of interference in forgetting. Psychological Review, 67, 73-95.

Postman, L. (1961). The present status of interference theory. In C. Cofer (Ed.), Verbal learning and verbal behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill. Martin, E. (1965). Transfer of verbal paired associates. Psychological Review, 72, 327-343. Tighe, T., & Tighe, L. (1968). Differentiation theory and concept-shift behavior. Psychological Bulletin, 70, 756-761. Lewis, D. J. (1979). Psychology of active and inactive memory. Psychological Bulletin, 86, 1054-1083. Bower, G., & Hilgard, E. R. (1981). Theories of learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Sarason, I. G., & Pierce, G. R. (1996). Cognitive interference: Theories, methods, and findings. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.




INTERPERSONAL ATTRACTION THEORIES. Interpersonal attraction refers to a favorable attitude toward, or feeling of liking for, another person. People are attracted to others for a variety of reasons, and there are many different kinds of attraction. One generalization concerning interpersonal attraction is the reward theory, which states that we like people whose behavior provides us with maximum reward at minimum cost. The gain-loss theory suggests that increases in positive, rewarding behavior from another person will have more impact on an individual than constant, invariant reward from that person. Thus, if one considers "being liked" as a reward, a person whose liking for us increases over time will be liked more than one who has always liked us. Four other theories/principles that describe interpersonal attraction are similarity, beauty/physical appearance, proximity, and social exchange. The similarity-attraction theory suggests that we like other people whose attitudes, values, and beliefs appear to be similar to our own (cf., matching hypothesis -holds that one tends to interact with, and be attracted to, others who are relatively equal to oneself in factors such as physique, age, intelligence, and ethnicity, and seems to be true for both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships). The principle of beauty/physical appearance refers to the rather obvious prediction that we tend to prefer physically attractive to physically unattractive individuals. Within a given culture, there is considerable agreement in judgments of a person's physical attractiveness, but little is known about the particular attributes that define "beauty." However, there is strong evidence indicating a gender distinction where physical appearance has a greater influence on the attraction of men to women than vice versa. The principle of proximity states that we are more likely to be attracted to people who live and work close to us rather than to those who live/work farther away. Use of the term proximity in the area of study called proxemics, including body-buffer zone theory (where emphasis is placed on the nonverbal expression involving spatial distance between interacting people, and their orientation toward each other, as reflected in distance separating them; according to this approach, the greater the "body-buffer zone," the more aggressive is the individual), involves the related issues/concepts of "crowding," "terri-toriality," and "personal space" [cf., ethologi-

cal models of personal space - suggest that "personal space bubbles" (i.e., the proximity with-in which creatures of one species will not allow other members of the same species to come near them) have been used by various species throughout evolutionary history to protect individual organisms against aggression; allegedly, persons living near the equator have relatively small person-space limits, whereas those living in northern areas have a need for relatively larger limits]. Proximity is, perhaps, the most important determinant of whom people choose as friends, lovers, and spouses; often, people end up marrying mates who live only a few blocks away. In general, the closer in distance people are to others, the more opportunities they have of becoming familiar with them: knowledge often leads to attraction and love. According to the filter theory of mate selection, people consciously or unconsciously search for mates based on a series of standards in a "filter hierarchy;" filters include age, appearance, education, nationality, vocation, personal resources, personality, friends, and family; the likeness and completeness marital success theories suggest that the factors of "likeness" and "group completeness," as reflected in participants' responses on marital inventories/tests, are characteristic of more successful marriages; and the stage theory of mate selection emphasizes the process by which persons are attracted to one another, fall in love, and marry; the process is described in terms of discrete stages relating to the stabilization of the relationship and by stimulus variables and social-role expectations. The theory of social exchange states that a relationship between two persons will be formed and maintained if, for each person, the rewards from the interaction are greater than the costs. A variation on the social-exchange theory, called equity theory, shifts the emphasis from the individual to that of the factors of mutual costs and benefits where a group of people can maximize their outcome in any interaction situation by working out an arrangement for equitably dividing the benefits and costs among group members. There is some evidence, also, that attraction and liking are influenced by such nonverbal behaviors as smiling, eye contact, physical touch, and body posture. See also COOP-


Heider, F. (1958). The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York: Wiley. Thibaut, J., & Kelley, H. (1959). The social psychology of groups. New York: Wiley.

Aronson, E., & Linder, D. (1965). Gain and loss of esteem as determinants of interpersonal attractiveness. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1, 156-171.

Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. (1969). Interpersonal attraction. Reading, MA: Ad-dison-Wesley. Byrne, D. (1971). The attraction paradigm.

New York: Academic Press. Huston, T., & Levinger, G. (1978). Interpersonal attraction and relationships. Annual Review of Psychology, 29, 115-156.


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  • simonetta
    How to make an interaction process analysis?
    2 years ago
  • lee
    4 months ago
  • brooklyn
    What are the relevance of field theory in interaction process analysis?
    4 months ago

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