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ERIC Number: ED416535
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Nov
Pages: 26
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Dark Side of Debate: The Downfall of Interpersonal Relationships.
Burnett, Ann; Olson, Clark D.
Debaters are trained to think differently from others, and while that type of thinking might be useful, it can be detrimental to interpersonal relationships. Participation in debate creates a unique standpoint, which, in turn, plays havoc with a debater's ability to cope with uncertainty, encourages second-guessing, impedes rather than fosters dialectical thinking, rewards uni-dimensional compliance-gaining strategies, and focuses on depth over breadth in self-disclosure. Uncertainty reduction theory, in this context, works on two levels--the debater might cross the line of social appropriateness, badgering his/her partner with questions until the relationship terminates, or, the student might never feel he/she has enough information to reduce the uncertainty. Debaters are taught that no statement is completely truthful and every statement should be second-guessed. Debaters tend to use argument and reason-giving to gain compliance. Debaters might attempt to win an "interpersonal" position just to win, merely for the ego satisfaction of winning without concern for the larger bearing on the relationship. By investing in a position, argument, or side, the thinking of those in debate becomes polarized, exactly the opposite of the pluralism that is necessary for interactional competence. Social penetration theory helps explain why debaters' relationships tend to decline--decreased intimacy is associated with increased depth, presumably due to the discussions individuals have when a relationship is terminating. Continued research on the longitudinal effects of debate training must be undertaken to assess the health and success of interpersonal relationships. (Contains 45 references.) (RS)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A