Interpersonal communication (IPC) is one of the most popular teaching subjects and research areas in communication studies. At its most basic, IPC examines how people in relationships talk to one another, why they select the messages they select, and the effect the messages have on the relationship and the individuals. This entry will first offer a brief history of the development of the IPC field. The second section is a description of the criteria used to identify communication as interpersonal. Finally, four categories of IPC theories are reviewed, and specific theories of IPC are described.

IPC is important to study for a number of reasons. First, people create meaning through communication—we learn who we are through communication with others and, more importantly, our communication with others influences how we think about and feel about ourselves. Second, IPC is important for practical reasons—we need to be able to talk to people in order to get things done and make positive impressions. Third, IPC is important to us physically—people who have good interpersonal relationships are physically and mentally healthier. Fourth, humans are social animals, and IPC helps us fulfill our social needs—understanding the IPC process will provide insight into how relationships can be more successful and satisfying. Finally, IPC research is important because how people think they communicate in relationships and how they actually communicate in relationships are very different.

Source : Littlejohn, Stephen W and Karen A.Floss. (2009). Encyclopedia of Communication Theory.USA:SAGE. 615