Contexts of the Dark Side of Communication

by Eletra S. Gilchrist-Petty (Volume editor) Shawn D. Long (Volume editor)
©2016 Textbook XIX, 340 Pages
Series: Lifespan Communication, Volume 10


Research on the dark side of communication has typically been studied from a single standpoint confined to a specific context. As an intradisciplinary project, this volume transcends the traditional unilateral perspective and focuses on a wide range of communication topics across a variety of contexts. From interpersonal communication, organizational communication, computer-mediated communication, and health communication, the book presents a collection of essays that merges theory with practical application.
Chapter contributors write candidly and unapologetically about how they and various populations under investigation mitigate a wealth of dark side behaviors spanning sexualization, cyberstalking, bereavement, and various illnesses.
The different perspectives offer a lens through which students and academics can enhance their understanding of how dark side behaviors are experienced and communicated. They enlighten our understanding of the dark side of human communication, initiate thought-provoking conversations, and inspire future studies that will advance the limitless inquisitions of contextual dark side research.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Foreword: Welcome to the Dark Side
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: A Contextual Perspective of the Dark Side of Communication
  • Context 1: The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication
  • Chapter One: Unlimited: Ostracism’s Potential to Awaken Us to Possibility and Mystery
  • Chapter Two: “They Don’t Get It, and I Don’t Want to Try to Explain It to Them”: Perceptions of Support Messages for Individuals Bereaved by the Death of a Parent or Sibling
  • Chapter Three: On Sexualization and Attraction…A Communication “Dark” Side
  • Chapter Four: Didn’t Expect You to Hurt Me This Way: A Typology of Hurtful Events in Dating and Marital Relationships
  • Chapter Five: Student-Sourced Verbal Aggression on Teaching Evaluations
  • Context 2: The Dark Side of Organizational Communication
  • Chapter Six: Workplace Bullying: U.S. Academic Managers’ Intervention Strategies
  • Chapter Seven: Defamation, Public Persecution, and Death Threats: Characterizing Retaliation against Whistle-Blowers
  • Chapter Eight: “A Cat Fight in the Office”: The Use of Gossip as a Means of Resource Control
  • Chapter Nine: Dispelling Darkness through Dialogue in Discrimination Crises: Learning Diversity Lessons the Hard Way
  • Chapter Ten: Microaggressive Communication in Organizational Settings
  • Chapter Eleven: Hazing as a Tool of Destructive Organizational Identification and Loyalty
  • Context 3: The Dark Side of Health Communication
  • Chapter Twelve: Exploring the Dark Side of Social Support among African Americans with Prostate Cancer
  • Chapter Thirteen: “My Doctor Ruined My Entire Birthing Experience”: A Qualitative Analysis of Mexican-American Women’s Birth Struggles with Health Care Providers
  • Chapter Fourteen: Body Politics—Strategies for Inclusiveness: A Case Study of the National Breast Cancer Coalition
  • Chapter Fifteen: Being Detained: Time, Space, and Intersubjectivity in Long-Term Solitary Confinement
  • Context 4: The Dark Side of Computer-Mediated Communication
  • Chapter Sixteen: Catfished: Disenfranchised Grief for the Never-Existed
  • Chapter Seventeen: I Heard It through the Grapevine: How Organizational Rumors Impact Interpersonal Relationships via Traditional and CMC Channels
  • Chapter Eighteen: “I Regret Nothing”: Cyberbullying and Prosocial Influence in the First-Person Shooter Game
  • Chapter Nineteen: Past Abuse, Cyberstalking, and Help-Seeking Behavior
  • Chapter Twenty: How Do Computer-Mediated Channels Negatively Impact Existing Interpersonal Relationships?
  • Context 5: The Dark Side of Blended-Communication Contexts
  • Chapter Twenty-One: “The More Things Change…”: Technologically Mediated Abuse of Intimate Partner Violence Victims
  • Chapter Twenty-Two: Turbulence, Turmoil, and Termination: The Dark Side of Social Networking Sites for Romantic Relationships
  • Chapter Twenty-Three: Shedding Light on Dark Structures Constraining Work/Family Balance: A Structurational Approach
  • Chapter Twenty-Four: “The Serial-Killer Application”: Email Overload and The Dark Side of Communication Technology in the Workplace
  • Chapter Twenty-Five: Facing the Green-Eyed Monster: Identifying Triggers of Facebook Jealousy
  • Epilogue: (Re)Casting the Dark Side of Communication
  • Biographies
  • Index
  • Series index

← viii | ix →

Foreword: Welcome to the Dark Side

Mark P. Orbe

In many cultures, a dichotomous distinction exists between light(ness) and dark(ness). Lightness is associated with optimism, affirmation, goodness, purity, softness, gentleness, delicacy, joy, happiness, carelessness, and anything viewed as positive. Darkness, in contrast, is situated with evil, anger, fear, hatred, greed, violence, brutality, cynicism, shame, fear, denial, manipulation, deceit, exploitation, abuse, and anything viewed as negative. Historically, “dark topics” have been regarded as taboo within personal, familial, and intellectual conversations.

“Taboo” (or tabu) is a Polynesian word that refers to a general ban on a particular object; alternatively, a taboo is “marked off”—implying that certain things are unsafe for casual contact or conversation (Evans, Avery, & Pederson, 2000). Taboo topics, then, refer to a strong social prohibition against words, actions, and discussions that are considered offensive and/or undesirable. A taboo can exist on an action (something that you should not do), on discussion (things that you do but do not discuss), or anything associated with certain actions (including thinking about it, creating a label for it, etc.). Topics generally exist on a continuum from those that are acceptable for discussion to those that are strictly taboo. Taboo topics can vary depending on context (personal, relational, cultural, and/or societal), but the commonalty is that all involve subjects that are perceived to be painful, embarrassing, and/or humiliating to self and/or others. Within the field of communication, taboo topics largely are associated with the “dark side” of communication (Anderson, Kunkel, & Dennis, 2011).

Distinctions between “light” and “dark” topics can be seen within the field of communication. Specifically, scholarship historically has most often focused on “light” topics, with little if any attention to topics deemed as “dark” or taboo. In the past couple of decades, “the dark side of communication”—a body of literature that engages topics traditionally regarded off limits and consequently largely unexamined through scholarly endeavors—has emerged and makes ← ix | x → significant contributions to our field. This edited volume makes a significant contribution to this growing body of scholarship. I encourage readers to embrace the opportunity to engage the taboo topics covered. Larger society cautions us against “walking on the dark side” due to the unpredictable dangerous association with such activity. Yet, I would argue that addressing these topics is the primary means to understanding the power that they have over us. Ignoring “dark topics” allows them to remain in the shadows, where they continue to impact our relationships without scrutiny.

As you read through this book’s chapters, three important points must be acknowledged. First, distinctions between the “light side” and “dark side” of communication topics are a socio-political construction. Marking certain topics as off-limits (or taboo) is not natural, inherent, or innate; instead, it reflects human activity filled with bias, subjectivity, and intent. Traditional thinking situates certain topics as either “dark” or “light”; however, all communication topics are best understood as having both positive and negative attributes. Second, unless we embrace the responsibility to study subject areas traditionally marked as taboo, the story of human communication will remain incomplete. All relationships are communicative and include experiences that are uncomfortable, humiliating, and/or embarrassing. Engaging these topics does not give them more power, they actually work to reduce the power they have in our lives. Third, and finally, explorations into the “dark side” generally, and the “dark side” of communication more specifically, are critically important. By acknowledging, accepting, and embracing chances to explore these topics we create safe opportunities to release some of the pressures associated with these communicative behaviors. As such, engaging the “dark side of communication” ultimately can work to empower all relational partners—transforming “safe spaces” to “brave spaces” (Arao & Clemens, 2013).

This edited volume features an eclectic collection of studies spanning a variety of communication topics, including those situated within interpersonal, organizational, health, computer-mediated, and blended contexts. As you consider engaging each chapter individually and the entire volume collectively, I encourage you to “take a walk on the dark side” and embrace the opportunities to gain invaluable insight on an array of topics typically marked as off-limits. You may be amazed at what insights can be gleaned through such an exciting exploration.


Anderson, M., Kunkel, A., & Dennis, M. R. (2011). “Let’s (not) talk about that:” Bridging the past sexual experiences taboo to build healthy relationships. Journal of Sex Research, 48(4), 381–391.

Arao, B., & Clemens, K. (2013). From safe spaces to brave spaces: A new way to frame dialogue around diversity and social justice. In L. M. Landreman (Ed.), The art of effective facilitation: Reflections from social justice educators (pp. 135–150). London, UK: Stylus Publishing.

Evans, R. W., Avery, P. G., & Pederson, P. V. (2000). Taboo topics: Cultural restraint on teaching social issues. The Clearing House, 73(5), 295–303.

← x | xi →


Collectively, we would like to thank each of the contributing authors who eagerly embraced this challenge with us. Without your research expertise, anecdotal experiences, time, and dedication, this volume would not have been possible. We also extend heartfelt appreciation to Peter Lang Publishing Inc., who made this scholastic work a reality. We especially thank Mary Savigar who believed in this project even in its infancy. Finally, Dr. Tom Socha, the series editor, we thank you for recognizing that the dark side of communication is intimately linked to our holistic understanding of lifespan communication.

Eletra S. Gilchrist-Petty

To my immediate family, Norris, London, Mom, Dad, Taylor, and Fredrick, your love and support are priceless, and each day you inspire me to reach beyond my greatest potential. Landri and Logan, you are forever in my heart. I would like to thank my Charger family at The University of Alabama, in Huntsville, for recognizing the importance of liberal arts education and scholarship. To my research assistants, Heather Patrick Beard and Moeshia Williams, I thank you for exhibiting diligence and keen editing skills. To my co-editor, Dr. Shawn D. Long, thank you for embarking on this journey with me. Above all, I thank my heavenly father for blessing me with the strength, intuition, and ability to complete another book project—truly, my cup runneth over.

Shawn D. Long

Many people have contributed to the conceptualization, execution, and support of this book. Special thanks to my co-editor, Dr. Eletra S. Gilchrist-Petty, for your excellent, insightful, and diligent work on this project. It was an honor to work with you. I would like to thank all of the dedicated ← xi | xii → authors of this book. You are committed thought-leaders in dark-side scholarship across a number of contexts. It was my pleasure to work with you to bring this book to life. Thanks to my research assistant, Alex Kello, for his assistance in the early stages of this project. The support of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Communication Studies, and the Organizational Science Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte has been invaluable in completing this project. Finally, and most importantly, I would like to thank my family and friends—near and far—for their long-lasting and unwavering support of my personal and professional endeavors.

← xii | xiii →

Introduction: A Contextual Perspective of the Dark Side of Communication

Eletra S. Gilchrist-Petty

Scholars and practitioners have long understood the importance of communication in human interaction. However, aside from the few select popular topics of conflict, transgressions, and relationship dissolution, traditional interpersonal and/or human communication pedagogy and theories have focused more on the positive, or at least the more neutral, aspects of communication. During this time, social scientists largely presented communication as a kind of “panacea”—a tool that when wielded effectively could provide redress for problematic situations (Spitzberg & Cupach, 2007, p. 14). We now know that this historical perception is idyllic and fails to fully unravel the inextricable complexities that co-exist with bright optimisms. In other words, traditional communication pedagogy neglected to tell the complete story, and instead advanced an “ideology of the pursuit of goodness” (Spitzberg & Cupach, 2007, p. 7).

This one-sided representation of communication and human experiences persisted in academic texts and most curricula until the mid-1990s when Cupach and Spitzberg ignited a paradigm shift by arguing that not all communication is positive; in contrast, they posited that relationships can be sources of extreme problematic interactions. Cupach’s and Spitzberg’s groundbreaking text, The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication (1994), offered the first collection of chapters that focused exclusively on the not-so-sunny side of communication and included necessary conversations relative to equivocation, relationship uncertainty, unrequited love, and even abuse. This initial dark side volume served as a forerunner for examining the pages left unturned by sanguine progenitors and presented a more complete view of the multiple layers of human engagement. Spitzberg and Cupach continued these pertinent discussions with their subsequent volumes The Dark Side of Close Relationships (1998a) and the second edition of The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication (2007). The authors used these pioneer volumes to establish the basic framework for conceptualizing the dark side of communication. ← xiii | xiv →

What Is the Dark Side of Communication?

Previous researchers have taken a relatively general approach when conceptualizing the dark side. Though Spitzberg and Cupach are the perceived originators of the dark side concept, they “have to date restrained from formally defining the dark side” (2007, p. 4). Instead the authors have cast a wide net and distinguished seven “sins” that describe the dark side: (1) the three d’s—dysfunctional, distressing, and destructive aspects of human interaction; (2) deviance, betrayal, transgression, and violation; (3) exploitation of the innocent; (4) the unfulfilled, underestimated, and unappreciated endeavors of life; (5) physically unattractive, the ugly, the distasteful, and repulsive; (6) dehumanization; and (7) paradoxical, dialectical, and mystifying aspects of human action (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1998b, p. xi–xxii). Olson, Baiocchi-Wagner, Wison-Kratzer, and Symonds (2012) synthesized Cupach and Spitzberg’s original work and defined dark communication as “verbal and/or nonverbal messages that are deemed harmful, morally suspect, and/or socially unacceptable” (p. 11). These varied and wide-reaching approaches open the door for a slew of behaviors to be studied under the multi-encompassing “dark side” umbrella. In this volume, we follow suit and choose not to limit proverbial dark side behaviors to finite margins that determine what is good and evil. It is our position that the dark side represents behavior that upon first consideration does not readily appear ideal, optimal, or overwhelmingly positive, yet it is part of human existence and, therefore, warrants scholarly consideration.

In conceptualizing the dark side of communication, it is also important to note that it contains both functional and normative dimensions. Spitzberg and Cupach (2007) addressed these dimensions with their quadric representation depicting the various boundaries of the dark side of communication. Briefly put, the quadric representation contends much of what we consider “dark” can be characterized as either (1) functionally productive and normatively destructive, (2) functionally destructive and normatively productive, (3) functionally destructive and normatively destructive, or (4) functionally productive and normatively productive.1 As alleged by Spitzberg and Cupach, there are few communication activities that are purely and clearly evil from both a functional (actual) and normative (perceptual) stance. Instead, residing at the heart of dark side investigations is the idea that many behaviors previously blanketed as “dark,” “dysfunctional,” or even “evil,” are in fact “functionally ambivalent” (Spitzberg & Cupach, 2007). Certain behaviors traditionally perceived as socially inappropriate or dark can produce positive and maybe even desirable outcomes. For example, when gossip is done in a playful manner it induces laughter, sociability, entertainment, group identity, and comfort for the interactants, but gossip as mockery is reflective of maliciousness, envy, jealousy, and competitiveness (Ferreira, 2014). This bifurcated view of gossip speaks to its ambiguous nature and suggests that what is considered “dark” is situationally dependent, dialectical, and in “the eye of the beholder.” With this volume, we seek to continue challenging the ubiquitous practice of positioning “light” and “dark” as opposing binaries and, instead, further elucidate the coexistence of “light” and “dark” behaviors that define the dark side as a multidimensional, situationally driven, paradox influenced by contextually driven functional and normative dimensions. ← xiv | xv →

Contexts of the Dark Side of Communication

All credit is rightfully due to Cupach and Spitzberg for insisting that the complete story of human communication be told because “dark” and “light” behaviors exist simultaneously. Since Cupach and Spitzberg’s initial work in this area, many scholars have deemed it worthy to extend the dark side scope (e.g., Fox & Spector, 2005; Goodwin & Cramer, 2002; Greenberg, 2010; Griffin & O’Leary-Kelly, 2004; Harden Fritz, & Omdahl, 2006; Hearn & Parkin, 2001; Kirkpatrick, Duck, & Foley, 2006; Kowalski, 1997; Kowalski, 2001; Leather, Brady, Lawrence, Beale, & Cox, 1999; Lutgen-Sandvik, & Sypher, 2009; Miller, 2004; Olson et al., 2012; Randall, 2001; Segrin, 2001). Each of the aforementioned works, however, have a more narrow and unilateral scope, in that they focus solely on dark side issues within singular contexts of the workplace, organizations, or general interpersonal relationships. This volume transcends this traditional one-dimensional perspective and presents a wide span of communication topics relating to five specific communication contexts (i.e., Interpersonal, Organizational, Health, Computer-Mediated, and Blended).

We duly note that the five contexts addressed in this volume are not the sole areas of inquiry within the communication discipline; however, it would be an impossible feat for any volume to serve as an ultimate text covering all domains of human communication scholarship. Therefore, the five contexts presented are related to our collective areas of training, pedagogy, and scholarly pursuit. Additionally, these context-driven areas serve as categories for organizing and illuminating communication-in-action vis-à-vis the multiple ways human engagement is experienced in our day-to-day interactions. We would like to stress that this volume is not conceptualized as simply a book on negative communication, because sometimes difficult conversations and human interactions are needed, possibly remain unresolved, and exist within a consensus-building fashion or dialectic. Our goal is simply to present a volume that serves as a vanguard text by offering a more complete view of how dark side behaviors permeate human communication across various domains.

In addition to presenting a premier volume that addresses the dark side of human communication from a contextual perspective, the chapters presented in this collection merge theory with practical application. Specifically, the volume addresses a myriad of theoretical positions, such as Black Feminist Epistemology, Matching Hypothesis, Structuration Theory, and Expectancy Violations, just to name a few. The intense scrutiny of previous scholarship ensures that the chapters are theoretically grounded to capture the essence of academic excellence. Moreover, the volume relates to the reader on a humanistic level by presenting authentic lived experiences. Chapter contributors write candidly and unapologetically about how they and various populations under investigation mitigate a wealth of dark side behaviors spanning sexualization, cyberstalking, bereavement, and various illnesses. Toward this end, the volume offers a number of diverse perspectives and lenses through which students, academics, and the general population can enhance their understanding of how dark side behaviors are experienced and communicated. ← xv | xvi →

Contextual Content

This volume is comprised of five contexts pertinent to our understanding of the dark side of human communication. The first context, The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication, explores various dark side elements germane to relational interactions. Striley initiates this section by discussing ostracism in adolescents’ daily lives. Through an electronic journaling study, Striley found that though ostracism can bring much pain and despair, the experience of rejection can transform and awaken adolescents to deeper insights about the social world, fostering resiliency and imagination. The second chapter by Basinger and Wehrman investigated how bereaved individuals experience grief as a relational process. The authors interviewed students who lost either a parent or sibling and found that the participants generally regarded supportive communication negatively. Sexualization is the focal point of the volume’s third chapter. Here, Stephenson argues that perceptions of attractiveness and the sexualization of those deemed physically “attractive” can become a communication dark side with real consequences. Gilchrist-Petty penned the fourth chapter in the interpersonal context and used Expectancy Violation Theory as a framework to better understand the hurtful events that confront dating and married couples. Via quantitative content analysis, Gilchrist-Petty concludes couples collectively experience a mix of relational transgressions that may or may not be experienced equally among dating and married persons, and as indicative of Expectancy Violation Theory, both dating and married couples have relational expectations that are perceived as hurtful when violated. The last chapter in the interpersonal context, authored by Jordan Jackson, examines verbal aggression in the classroom by analyzing the comment portions of student evaluations of teaching. Findings lend further support to previous research that alleges instructors who are women and/or racial minorities receive more negative evaluations than White male faculty.

The volume’s second context examines The Dark Side of Organizational Communication. In this context, the authors address a myriad of challenging situations that affect workplace environments. Theiss and Webb open the section with their study of workplace bullying. Thematic analysis of interview data collected from academic managers revealed that managers use an assortment of collaborative and dominant strategies in their interactions with perpetrators and victims of workplace bullying. Next, Richardson and Gravely explore retaliation against whistle-blowers. Based upon interview data collected from whistleblowers, the authors explore how retaliation against whistleblowers is expressed, reasons retaliation is used against whistleblowers, and the outcomes of retaliation for whistleblowers, retaliators, and the organization. Chapter eight features a study by Kartch and Valde who address destructive gossip as an aggressive form of communication from a resource-control theoretical perspective. Using participant observer ethnographic data, the authors chronicle a real-life gossip situation within an organization and address how organizational members use gossip as a means of resource control. Results indicate gossip was prevalent and used as relationally and socially aggressive tactics to manipulate workplace relationships, build cliques, and exclude others. Padgett, Gupton, and Snider interrogate workplace diversity and discrimination in chapter nine. The authors critique cases that are emblematic of workforces that have struggled with issues of diversity and inclusion, and they advance a dialogic approach designed to not only confront workplace discrimination, but create and sustain an inclusive organizational environment. Long, Woznyj, Coleman, Makkawy, and Spivey collaborated on chapter ten and examine microaggressive communication in organizational settings. Specifically, the authors critique a series of case ← xvi | xvii → studies that illuminate organizational microaggressions, considering implications for diversity and inclusion. Murrary and Brown, authors of the final chapter in the organizational communication context, scrutinize hazing as a tool of destructive organizational identification and loyalty. Survey data from 287 respondents were used to draw conclusions about organizational members’ perceptions of hazing.

The Dark Side of Health Communication is the focus of this volume’s third context, which concerns how dark side communication can impact the construction, dissemination, and application of information applicable to one’s health. Thompson, Brown-Burton, and Jackson launch the section with a qualitative study examining lack of familial social support among African Americans diagnosed with prostate cancer. Their findings confirm that African American men experience physical and psychological challenges because of prostate cancer and perceive neither emotional nor tangible support from family members, and some feel that the well-intentioned efforts of loved ones undermine their confidence to cope with the disease. Chapter thirteen features Hernandez’s qualitative thematic analysis of Mexican-American women’s birth experiences within the U.S. health care system. Data collected from semi-structured interviews revealed patients had low levels of medical understanding, power struggles with health care providers, and anxieties about the birth and postpartum care processes. Chapter fourteen by Gatison uses case study as a research methodology to analyze communication strategies of the National Breast Cancer Coalition. Gatison stresses the need for diversity and inclusiveness, especially in relation to Black women breast cancer victims. The final chapter in the health communication context examines the supermax detention cell as one of the key architectural components of contemporary counterinsurgency warfare. Vicaro, author of the chapter, argues that new high-tech prison cells used for both military and civilian detention are able to produce conditions tantamount to torture without requiring overtly violent physical contact with detainees. Vicaro further critiques health implications of long-term solitary confinement.

Context number four, The Dark Side of Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC), considers dark behaviors that occur through either synchronous or asynchronous electronic systems. Degroot and Carmack commence this discussion with their investigation of deception during online dating. Through case study methodology, they describe the disenfranchised grief that ensues from catfishing. In chapter seventeen, Mumpower and Bassick examine organizational rumors’ impact on relationships via traditional and CMC channels. The authors surveyed 165 sorority and fraternity members and found that rumors were most frequently spread via face-to-face interactions, followed by text messaging, social networking sites, and other media. Chapter eighteen features the scholarship of Kulovitz and Mabry, who tested cyberbullying group behavior in the online video game Left 4 Dead 2 by focusing on game outcome, group cohesion, and leader influence. Through participant observations, Kulovitz and Mabry found the presence of both cyberbullying and prosocial behavior within the same gaming sessions. Davies composed chapter nineteen and used qualitative measures to examine the lived experiences of technological stalking victims. Results indicate that relationships marred with physical, psychological, and emotional abuses often serve as precursors to technological stalking. Johnson, Bostwick, and Anderson round out our discussion of the dark side of CMC with their inquiry of how technology negatively affects interpersonal relationships. Data acquired through a series of focus groups revealed six main challenges CMC use presents to human engagement. ← xvii | xviii →

The final portion of the volume, The Dark Side of Blended-Communication Contexts, speaks to the multifaceted nature of communication and features chapters on dark side behaviors that infiltrate two or more areas of human communication. For example, chapter twenty-one by Eckstein marries the interpersonal and CMC disciplines by exploring technologically mediated abuse in settings of intimate partner violence. Eckstein used a mixed-method design to study the experiences of 495 self-identified victims of intimate partner violence and found supportive evidence for a future Technologically Mediated Abuse Scale. Findings also revealed the varied ways victims of intimate partner violence experience technologically mediated abuse. Fox and Anderegg also present a blended interpersonal and CMC study in chapter twenty-two that investigated the dark side of social networking sites for romantic couples. Their chapter highlights various conflicts couples experience related to uses of social networking sites, including negative relational maintenance, partner monitoring, romantic jealousy, and relationship dissolution. Interpersonal and organizational communication are intertwined in Dixon and Liberman’s study, which probed the challenges of work/life balance as perceived by working adults representing different family structures. Through the tenets of Structuration Theory, three themes emerged that describe the dark structures working adults encounter when balancing work and non-work obligations. Barrett authored chapter twenty-four, blending the CMC and organizational contexts. Specifically, Barrett interrogated email overload in the workplace and concluded from qualitative interview data that individual personalities, face sensitivities, technological dependencies, and workplace preferences contribute to employees’ perceptions of email overload. Chapter twenty-five—this volume’s final chapter—is authored by Hoffman and DeGroot, who meld together the interpersonal and CMC contexts with an examination of various Facebook jealousy triggers that affect romantic relationships. Analysis of survey data revealed both rival-based and partner-based jealousy triggers.

Holistically, the various contexts and corresponding chapters featured in this volume serve to further enlighten our understanding of the dark side of human communication. In bringing forth this scholarly collection, the editors desire simply to expand our knowledge base, initiate thought-provoking conversations, and inspire future studies that advance the limitless inquisitions of contextual dark side research.


1 See Spitzberg and Cupach (2007) p. 4–8 for a detailed description of the four dimensions.


Cupach, W. R., & Spitzberg, B. H. (Eds.). (1994). The dark side of interpersonal communication. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Ferreira, A. A. (2014). Gossip as indirect mockery in friendly conversation: The social functions of “sharing a laugh” at third parties. Discourse Studies, 16(5), 607–628. doi:10.1177/1461445614538564

Fox, S., & Spector, P. E. (Eds.). (2005). Counterproductive work behavior: Investigations of actors and targets. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Goodwin, R., & Cramer, D. (Eds.). (2002). Inappropriate relationships: The unconventional, the disapproved, and the forbidden. Mahwah, NJ: LEA.

Greenberg, J. (2010). Insidious workplace behavior. New York, NY: Routledge.

Griffin, R. W., & O’Leary-Kelly, A. M. (Eds.). (2004). The dark side of organizational behavior. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. ← xviii | xix →

Harden Fritz, J. M., & Omdahl, B. L. (Eds.). (2006). Problematic relationships in the workplace. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Hearn, J., & Parkin, W. (2001). Gender, sexuality and violence in organizations. London, UK: Sage.

Kirkpatrick, D. C., Duck, S., & Foley, M. K. (Eds.). (2006). Relating difficulty: The processes of constructing and managing difficult interaction. Mahwah, NJ: LEA.


XIX, 340
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (May)
cyberstalking bereavement health communication
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2016. XIX, 340 pp.

Biographical notes

Eletra S. Gilchrist-Petty (Volume editor) Shawn D. Long (Volume editor)

Eletra S. Gilchrist-Petty (PhD, University of Memphis) is Communication Arts Associate Professor at the University of Alabama, Huntsville. She is the editor of Experiences of Single African-American Women Professors: With This PhD, I Thee Wed (2011). Shawn D. Long (PhD, University of Kentucky) is Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of Communication Studies and Organizational Science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is the editor of Communication, Relationships and Practices in Virtual Work (2010) and Virtual Work and Human Interaction Research (2012).


Title: Contexts of the Dark Side of Communication
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