Perceptions of power and interactional dominance in interpersonal relationships

Norah E. Dunbar, Judee K. Burgoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

205 Scopus citations


This investigation uses dyadic power theory (Dunbar, 2000, 2004; Rollins & Bahr, 1976) to examine the relationship between dominance and power and the behavioral manifestations of power in close relationships. Ninety-seven couples (58 married, 39 cohabiting) completed a problem-solving task together while being videotaped. The videotapes were coded for a variety of verbal and nonverbal dominant control attempts including dysfluencies, interruptions, frequency of adaptor and illustrator gestures, vocal characteristics, and general perceptions of dominance. The results revealed that individuals' perceptions of power led to more dominant communication behavior during discussions with their partner. Comparisons between the perceptions of participants and observers and the implications for future research are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-233
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Dominance
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Power
  • Verbal communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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