Imagined interaction


Imagined interaction

Imagined Interaction (IIs) are a type of social cognition and mental imagery grounded in symbolic interactionism in which individuals imagine conversations with significant others for a variety of purposes. The II construct has provided a beneficial mechanism for operationalizing the study of intrapersonal communication. IIs are a type of daydreaming that have definitive characteristics and serves a number of functions including rehearsal, self-understanding, relational maintenance, managing conflict, catharsis, and compensation. For example, the conflict management functions explains how deep conflict is difficult to manage in everyday life such that it is hard to “forgive and forget" (Honeycutt & Ford, 2001).

Theoretical Foundation of Imagined Interactions

Honeycutt (2003) define IIs as a process of social cognition through which individuals imagine themselves in anticipated or recalled interaction with others. Honeycutt and his colleagues (1989)proposed that IIs are actually an extended form of intrapersonal communication, which allows one to talk to oneself and imagine talking to others as well. In the early proposal, IIs were suggested as a means to operationalize the study of mental imagery and daydreaming as it works to shape communication interpersonally.

Honeycutt et al. (1989) discuss how IIs have their theoretical foundation in the work of symbolic interactionists and phenemonologists, including Mead (1934), Dewey (1922) and Schutz (1962). As individuals engage in imagined interactions, scripts are activated as people imagine how they might react in an upcoming conversation. Imagined interactions help people prepare for encounters. They also help people to relive previous conversations and foster good or bad memories.

Functions of Imagined Interactions

Imagined interactions function in the following ways: (1) they keep a relationship alive, (2) they maintain conflict as well as resolving it, (3) they are used to rehearse messages for future interaction, (4) they aid people in self-understanding through clarifying thoughts and feelings, (5) they provide emotional catharsis by relieving tension, and (6) they compensate for lack of real interaction (Honeycutt, 2003.)

The second function of conflict management has received a great deal of research attention as it explains how individuals often remember arguments that are many years old and it is difficult for them to "let go." As a result, they harbor old grudges. A series of axioms (e.g., The communication is the relationship) and theorems are discussed explaining how daily conflict is managed or destructively dealt with (see Honeycutt, 2004 for a review).

Citations

*Dewey, J. (1922). "Human nature and conduct: An introduction to social psychology". New York: Henry Holt.
*Honeycutt, J. M. (2003). "Imagined interactions: Daydreaming about communication."
*Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
*Honeycutt, J. M. (2004). Imagined interaction conflict-linkage theory: Explaining the
*persistence and resolution of interpersonal conflict in everyday life. "Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 23," 3-25.
*Honeycutt, J. M., Edwards, R., & Zagacki, K. S. (1989-1990). Using imagined interaction features to predict measures of self-awareness: Loneliness, locus of control, self-dominance, and emotional intensity. "Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 9," p 17-31.
*Honeycutt, J. M., & Ford, S. G. (2001). Mental imagery and intrapersonal communication: A review of research on imagined interactions (IIs) and current developments. "Communication yearbook 25 (pp. 315-345)." Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
*Mead, G. H. (1934). "Mind, self and society." Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
*Schutz, A. (1962). Choosing among projects of action. In M. Natanson (Ed.), "Collected Papers, Volume I: The Problem of Social Reality (pp. 67-96)". The Hague, Netherlands:


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