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Interaction (from Latin inter 'between' and actio 'activity', 'action') describes the mutual interaction of actors or systems and is closely linked to the overarching terms communication , action and work .

See also: social interaction

Sociology, Psychology and Education

The term is primarily used in sociology , psychology and pedagogy and describes "the interrelated actions of two or more people " or the "interrelationship between acting partners " (→ social interaction ).

In an interaction such as a negotiation, one must assume that this also reveals the people of the negotiating partners. This is all the more true for complex issues such as teaching, education, etc.

The symbolic interactionism is a sociological theory, which deals with the interaction between people. It is based on the basic idea that the meaning of social objects, situations and relationships is produced in the symbolically mediated process of interaction / communication - consisting of

In the system theory of Niklas Luhmann communication is understood to be present at interaction (contrary to written communication) (→ interaction system ).

In the broad understanding of social psychology , interaction denotes the reciprocal and related actions of actors . In a narrow sense, interaction in sociology refers to communication among those present (face-to-face communication). Ruth Cohn developed the system of topic-centered interaction , which helps understand and shape interaction processes in groups. In psychology , Alfred Lorenzer (1922–2002) presented transference as a form of interaction. See Understanding Psychology .

The importance of interaction for pedagogy lies primarily in the socializing function of interaction. By acting in social situations, people develop into members of social groups ( competence to act ); through action (interaction) he individually attains the skills:

This in turn has consequences for his position in social structures. Without activities (interaction, communication), socialization ( socialization ) cannot be imagined. The primary task of parents / educators is to enable children to interact with them (opening up spaces for action) - regardless of the educational orientation of the caregivers (→ parenting style ). Lack of interaction is (occasionally) described as problematic in the sense of omission; On the other hand, too many actions by the parents are seen as dirigistic, dominant, directing and restricting. Criminal acts are e.g. B. child abuse , sexual abuse , inappropriately harsh (excessive) punishment .

In educational least two important categories of social interaction processes can be distinguished: the interaction between child and Erziehendem and the interactions between peers. Both have their specific meaning in the socialization of the individual or in psychosocial development. At the same time, interacting means: acquiring knowledge and acquiring socially relevant skills , which in turn have a specific meaning or effect or play an important role in (social) interaction.

Other social sciences

In the area of ​​business consulting, Fred Kofmann differentiated communication, negotiation and coordination as its components.

Legal writers who speak of interaction regularly use the term in one of its social science meanings. Example: The cooperation of all parties involved in a legal process is known as interaction.

In linguistics , interaction describes the influence on language behavior in children growing up bilingually.

Computer science

In computer science , the concept of interaction is related to the concept of communication . In the communication-scientific discussion of the concept of interaction, interaction is used both as a subset of communication and, conversely, communication as a subset of interaction.

Communicating systems process information and exchange it as part of interactions. The interactions of systems can therefore be classified as follows:

  1. Flow of information, in the form of unidirectional versus bidirectional;
  2. Information processing with the three sub-dimensions of state, determinism and synchronicity with the respective characteristics stateful versus stateless, deterministic versus nondeterministic and synchronous versus asynchronous.

In contrast to the interaction concept of sociology , interaction in computer science describes one-sided actions between humans and computers. The term interaction is used as a generic term for activities with little feedback and describes one-sided communication processes, since the computer is not understood as a transmission medium, but as a partner in communication.

The one-sided action of the user can be divided into interpretation, selection and modification. Interpretation refers to one-sided cognitive processes of user-system interaction. The interaction in this case is an inner dialogue in which the changes in the environment are subjectively interpreted by the recipient. The terms selection and modification are used very frequently in human-computer interaction . While selection primarily relates to the selection of existing alternatives, modification is about actively changing media offers.

The term has a slightly different meaning in relation to human-computer interaction, i.e. the design of the user interface to programs and hardware : Ergonomic software means that the interaction design with regard to orientation, navigation, mask design , system reactions, messages, etc. a lot of attention was paid to it. There is a standard (EN ISO 9241 ) that regulates more details in the section on design of user interfaces .

In the area of ​​design disciplines, it is about the planning, development and design of interactive user interfaces. User interfaces can be found in the hardware and software area.


In statistics , an interaction takes place when two (or more) variables ( independent variables ; predictors ) predict or influence a third variable ( dependent variable ; criterion). This influence ( interaction effect ) only occurs when these two independent variables occur together, since the effect of one independent variable depends on the severity of the other. In these cases, the mean values ​​of the variables cannot be added.

Improvisation (music)

When a musician improvises, he influences the actions of his fellow musicians and is in turn influenced by the musical expressions of his fellow musicians. This creates an interaction between the actors. In an unprepared ad hoc encounter, a particular attraction can be found in the spontaneity and agility of experienced improvisation musicians, which can lead to musically meaningful interactions, even without a specific (e.g. stylistic) frame of reference having been agreed beforehand. But already with the second joint improvisation of the same constellation of actors, the experiences already made together start the formation of a self-referential system within which the musicians interact from now on. In the course of such a group process, however, the compositional part increases in relation to the improvisational part, so that it soon becomes more of a kind of contemporary collective composition. In music groups that work together in this way over a longer period of time , a "stable" communication field can be established in ongoing, increasingly differentiating trial-and-error processes in addition to a common musical vocabulary, in which the musicians reflect and repeat theirs Being able to interact and explore boundaries. Such a field of communication does not develop as “stable” through the consolidation of a form, but rather as the “permanence of the possible” (Niklas Luhmann), as a permanent option for temporary formations.

Interaction in science


It is about a functional concept in the ecosystem and the effect of organisms on one another, also mutual relationships between organisms and substances, processes or between these inanimate components and effects (→ Bi-systems in an ecosystem , communication (biology) , allelopathy ).


In physics, interaction stands for the fundamental interaction between elementary particles .


In pharmacology , “interactions” stands for drug interactions (drug interactions) in which the effect of one drug is influenced by the simultaneous administration of others.

See also


  • Leon Tsvasman (ed.): The great lexicon media and communication. Compendium of interdisciplinary concepts . Ergon, Würzburg 2006, ISBN 3-89913-515-6 .
  • Gerhard M. Buurman (Ed.): Total Interaction. Theory and practice of a new paradigm for the design disciplines . Birkhäuser, Basel / Vienna / New York 2005, ISBN 3-7643-7076-9 .
  • Norbert Kühne , Peter Wenzel: Practice book pedagogy. Observe planning educate in kindergarten . Stam, Cologne 2000, ISBN 3-8237-5857-8 .
  • Norbert Kühne: Interaction as support. In: Norbert Kühne (Hrsg.): Praxisbuch Sozialpädagogik. Volume 7, Bildungsverlag EINS, Troisdorf 2009, ISBN 978-3-427-75415-2 .
  • Theo Jörgensmann and Rolf Dieter Weyer: Small Ethics of Improvisation. About the essence, time and space, material and spontaneous form . Neue Organization Musik, Essen 1991, ISBN 3-924272-99-9 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Interaction  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Duden | Interaction | Spelling, meaning, definition, origin. Retrieved August 9, 2020 .
  2. Lorenzer, Alfred : On the subject of psychoanalysis or: Language and interaction. Frankfurt 1973.
  3. Habermas, Jürgen : The universality claim of hermeneutics (1970). In: On the logic of the social sciences, stw 517, Frankfurt 5 1982, page 343 ff.
  4. Norbert Kühne : Interaction as Promotion. In: Norbert Kühne (Hrsg.): Praxisbuch Sozialpädagogik. Volume 7, Bildungsverlag EINS , Troisdorf 2009, ISBN 978-3-427-75415-2 .
  5. ^ Fred Kofmann: Conscious Business. Boulder 2006.
  6. Quiring, O., Schweiger, W. (2006): Interactivity - ten years after. An inventory and an analysis framework. In: Medien und Kommunikationwissenschaft, 54th year, pp. 5–24.
  7. Jäckel, M. (1995): Interaction . Sociological notes on a term, in: Rundfunk und Fernsehen, 43, pp. 463–476.
  8. Bucher, H.-J .: How interactive are the new media? Basics of a theory of the reception of non-linear media, in: Bucher, H.-J., Püschel, U. (Ed.), The newspaper between print and digitization. Wiesbaden 2001, pp. 139-171.
  9. ^ Johannes Reich, Tizian Schröder: A reference model for interaction semantics. Retrieved May 20, 2020 .
  10. Goertz, L. (1995): How interactive are media? Towards a definition of interactivity. Radio and Television, 43, 477–493.