Essay Project


You will gain a greater understanding of specific aspects of interpersonal communication by applying content from the text, and research from the Annotated Bibliography assignment to media examples.
You will share your examples and explanation for concepts with your instructor, demonstrating your understanding of how individuals communicate in various interpersonal contexts. You will also show that the theories and principles we have studied do apply to “real life.”

Before you were enrolled in this course, much of what you knew about Interpersonal Communication may have been learned from personal experience. Before taking this course, your knowledge about IP Comm may have been gathered from our relationships with others, but also comes to us from the media (e.g. television shows and movies) we view on a daily basis.

The goal of this assignment is to choose a popular movie or television show and to explain what lessons we learn about one context of interpersonal communication (e.g. romantic relationships, friendships, etc.) by viewing the medium you have chosen. Furthermore, you will need to identify the concepts that are demonstrated in this movie or television show with research that supports your conclusion.

You are responsible for selecting a movie or episodes of a current television show (preferably within the last 5-10 years) and deciding on one relationship that you will focus on for this paper. You should also choose a relationship within this medium that you feel demonstrates relevant aspects of interpersonal interaction (e.g. conflict, culture, gender) and theories (e.g. Social Penetration Theory; Communication Accommodation Theory) as discussed in our Reflect and Relate text.

Once you have decided on your movie or television show, you will need to watch the film or specific episode(s) and take notes about the characters, their relationship, the context/environment they are in, and their communication (verbal and nonverbal). As you are watching, be observant of the takeaways or lessons for competent interpersonal communication the average person “learns” without even being aware of them. For an example of one way to approach your paper, see below.

Example Movie: Home Alone

Example Context: Families/Family Communication/Culture- Christmas or Holiday Celebrations

Example Thesis: Home Alone is more than just a movie about a child left to fend for himself. We learn that parents and children often have complicated relationships when we look at attachment and conflict styles, as well as disclosure in their relationship with one another.

Example Concepts for Research: Attachment Styles, Conflict Management/Conflict, Self-Disclosure, Parent-Child communication

Your paper should:

Be at least four pages and no more than eight. Please keep in mind that doing the bare minimum will not necessarily earn you an “A.” In fact, you should err on the side of more content rather than less. And note, that your cover page and works cited pages do not count in this page total.
Use 12pt Times New Roman Font, 1-inch margins, double spacing, and a title page that includes a creative title for your paper.
Include a Works Cited/References section that reflects any and all outside research sources. For this assignment, you are required to have at least four (4) outside sources (your textbook can count as one source) to support the claims or information you share within your paper. Be sure you use APA format for in-text citations as well as your Works Cited page part of your document.
Organization for Your Final Draft

Your paper should have a clear pattern of organization, and include a clear introduction, separated body paragraphs (it is okay to have more than three paragraphs in this paper!), and a sound conclusion. Suggested elements for these components are as follows:

Introduction: should include a brief description of the movie or television episode used for analysis (including plot, if this is important for understanding the concepts you chose), main characters (or, the specific characters you are focusing on for this analysis), and a brief background about the characters. You should also include a preview of the concepts/communication elements you will be discussing, and a thesis statement which states why these concepts are important for our understanding of interpersonal communication, competent communication, and/or the context (e.g. friendships) you have chosen
Body Paragraphs: Please know that it is okay to have MORE than three paragraphs in a research paper! You should have a section heading that separates each of the concepts you are planning on discussing (centered on the page, similar to above). Therefore, it is also acceptable to have more than one paragraph under each of these section headings. In fact, you should have at least two or three detailed paragraphs discussing each concept you have chosen. These paragraphs should also use paraphrases and direct quotes of the information you have discovered in your research and everything should be cited properly according to APA style. Please be sure that you reference interactions or behaviors between the characters while discussing your concepts, and that you are not “reviewing” material without connecting it to the chosen media.
Conclusion: You will need to develop a conclusion that briefly summarizes the content you have covered in your paper and restates your thesis (in different words than your actual thesis statement). You can also discuss how your movie/episode, or mass media in general, helps us understand our relationships with others better, the need to improve interpersonal communication with others, and/or reflects what many of us experience in real life. Your conclusion should be similar in length to your introduction, just FYI.
Choose the movie or show you use wisely – make sure that there are easily identifiable aspects of interpersonal interaction, communication concepts, and theories.

Remember: This is not a review of the movie, but you should discuss the types of things you saw within your media example and relate them to applicable principles, theories, and concepts in the textbook and in the outside sources you find.

Below is a list of questions you might group together as a focus for your final paper. You are not bound by these questions, but simply use them as a guide to help you decide what to discuss.

Possible Guiding Questions:

Keep in mind, it’s not necessary to address ALL of these! Focus on the ones that are important to the thesis you have for your paper and for what you have researched as well.

What type of context are you focusing on? Romantic relationships? Family communication? Friendships? Co-workers?
What is a brief background of the show/movie? What do we need to know in order to understand the dynamic between the characters? Who are they? (Keep this brief!)
How were the relationships between the characters established? What effects do these relationships have on the individuals involved in them? How are relationships dissolved?
How would you describe the roles of the characters? What gender roles do they play? Cultural roles?
What communication concepts are illustrated and how do they affect interactions between characters? (e.g. listening, culture, nonverbal communication)
What communication theories apply to the situation or the interactions between characters?
Can we determine whether or not the characters are satisfied or dissatisfied with their relationships with one another? How?

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