Interpersonal adaptation

Judee K. Burgoon, Norah E. Dunbar, Cindy H. White

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


Interpersonal adaptation is a fundamental and pervasive human behavior. Adaptation forms the basis of social and biological development; it enables relationship development, facilitates social influence, marks personality and cultural differences, and is critical to establishing and maintaining social organization. The term “adaptation” encompasses a variety of behaviors including mirroring, interactional synchrony, behavioral matching, convergence or divergence, accommodation, reciprocity, and compensation, all of which are distinguished and discussed in this chapter. A variety of theories and models of interpersonal adaptation are explored including biological and evolutionary models, cognitive neuroscience models, psychologically-based models, socially-based models, and three different communicative-based models including communication accommodation theory, expectancy violations theory, and interaction adaptation theory. The chapter’s goal is to illustrate the importance of interpersonal adaptation in interaction, to clarify the definitions employed to describe the various forms of adaptation, and to overview theories used to study adaptation from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The chapter highlights the importance of examining the communicative nature of adaptation in interaction.

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


  • Biological and evolutionary models
  • Compensation
  • Convergence
  • Discourse alignment
  • Interactional synchrony
  • Interpersonal interaction
  • Matching
  • Mimicry
  • Reciprocity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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