Social interaction

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Social interaction refers to the processes of mutual influence (through communication; mutual social exchange) between individuals and social groups (social influence) as well as the resulting change in behavior and attitudes, for example (change of attitude). Another term of communication is used inter alia as a synonym. Occasionally it is considered that communication can be an asymmetric process in which information is transferred from a sender to a receiver. While interaction always means a symmetrical process in which both sides exchange information. When interacting, the recipient has the choice of which part of the message from the sender he wants to react to and thus has a high degree of options as to the direction in which the conversation should be steered. There are four different forms of interaction: pseudo-interaction, asymmetrical interaction, reactive interaction, interdependent-symmetrical interaction.

Social psychological concept of interaction

In social psychology one speaks of interaction in the mutual influencing of the behavior or attitudes of individuals or groups via communication. In the interaction of a school class z. B. Teachers and students influence each other, whereby they orientate themselves on their respective expectations (role ideas, situation definitions, previous experiences). Interaction can therefore only be defined as behavior that is described in the context of situational action concepts. The interaction analysis according to RF Bales tries to describe and structurally reveal the structure of the interacting partners. Bales has provided twelve categories for this (e.g. agrees, shows solidarity, makes suggestions, asks for opinions, etc.) With the help of such interaction structures, groups can be characterized (and distinguished from others).

The Milgram experiment shows the dramatic influence on the behavior of test subjects through the interaction of supposed authorities .

Use of terms in sociology

The actual term , which was later translated into American as "interaction", comes from Georg Simmel and was "interaction". Social interaction is the active interaction of at least two actors or social institutions such as organizations, e.g. B. for the purpose of coordinating the behavior of those involved or the specific actions of the cooperation partners. The prerequisite for the connectivity of an interaction is the mutual communicative reference of those involved in the interaction. This reference can include reasons for action, goals and expectations of the other party. Since such an interpretation is always mutual, social interaction is also communication .

Sociology distinguishes three levels of social life:

Organizations and societies consist of (structured) innumerable social interactions of the people involved. In some sociological theories, interaction is considered to be the basic unit of everything social .

Various theories and sociologists have dealt with social interaction. They each show specific aspects.

Georg SImmel

The works of Georg Simmel can be counted among the early interactionist approaches (e.g. Die Großstädte und das Geistesleben of 1903, or Der Streit of 1908). Methodologically, they are based neither on the analysis of individual actions nor on large social structures or institutions, but on the forms of interaction and dynamics between these levels against the background of increasing individualization of society.

Max Weber

According to Max Weber , social action is always related to the behavior of others in the sense intended by the actors. One can speak of social interaction insofar as action takes place in a social relationship , i. H. is a continuous “self-behavior” of several that is adjusted to one another and thus oriented. The social interaction is determined by the individual socialization process as well as the individually different selective perception.

Symbolic interactionism

In symbolic interactionism, interaction is a permanent process of acting, observing and designing further actions, in which ego and age mutually take over or reject the assumed role expectations of the other, react to it and anticipate further action. Mutual interpretations define the situation, determine what it should or should not be about, and guide action. Not given norms enable the interaction, but the common definition of the meaning of the interaction. The prerequisite for successful interaction is the ability to take on perspectives . This conception of interaction represents the interpretive paradigm against the normative paradigm.

George Herbert Mead

George Herbert Mead does not understand a social act to be the act of an individual. The social action is directed towards a social object. So is z. B. the social object of the soccer team to score goals or to win the game. The cooperative interaction of the team is the social act. It consists of social interactions between the game partners, which are coordinated firstly by having a common social object and secondly by the ability of the interaction participants to anticipate the role that the others play in achieving the goal and to act accordingly react.

Talcott Parsons

According to Talcott Parson's role theory , we follow normative guidelines in our behavior that result from social structures. There is uncertainty in behavior because the participants in the interaction may interpret the norms of behavior differently. That interaction works anyway, Parsons explained by the fact that participants have internalized through socialization, the same norms and values of society and therefore are motivated to act the way they act intended . Such a view is counted under the normative paradigm.

In contrast to Parson's approach is the interactionist role model .

Selected aspects of social interaction

Conditions of successful social interaction

Social interaction is directly related to communication . That is why the same conditions apply to successful social interaction as to successful communication. One speaks of successful communication and thus successful social interaction when the goals of the interaction have been achieved and the intended effect occurs. This means that the expectations of those involved in the interaction were met and thus also their needs. As a simple example, consider what happens in the classroom: a student asks a question (his need / expectation is the answer) and the teacher answers it. The goal is achieved when the student has understood it, so both the student's and the teacher's expectations have been met.

It is also important to enable a positive atmosphere for interaction, to signal your willingness to communicate and to check your own objectives and expectations of the interaction.

Another important aspect of successful interaction is the preservation of face through facework ( Erving Goffman ).

Developmental psychology

From early childhood onwards, the individual influences situations which, on the other hand, influence them themselves. It affects the social and physical environment. So humans not only react passively, but also help to shape their environment themselves. In this respect, humans (according to Leo Montada) form a system in which activities and changes are interlinked. The changes in details lead to changes in the overall system - and of course have a retroactive effect. If you used to ask how the child develops in a family, nowadays you are more likely to ask how a child affects a family and which effects in turn influenced the child. For example, it would not only be asked how the divorce affects the child, but also what children contribute to marital satisfaction. According to Montada, Kagan and Moss investigated the situation of hostile mothers and aggressive children: They found high correlations between the two factors. Traditionally, it would be said that the hostility of the mothers influences the aggressiveness of the children; better, however, is the question of mutual influence or the question of hostility as a hereditary disposition, which mothers are open to criticism and children are aggressive - and thus influence each other.

A productive way in which young people could act as agents of their own development is to choose other areas of action (outside of the family). According to the authors, this is of great importance, especially in early adolescence, when it comes to future areas of action and peer groups that are independent of parents. This choice of external spaces for action also stabilizes existence in a changing world. By choosing alternative situations of interaction, the young person becomes the producer of his own development - and socialization. René Spitz and Harry Harlow made the paramount importance of early social interaction for the optimal development of the child very clear. The lack or even the lack of interaction with caregivers has devastating psychological, motor and intellectual consequences for the child (see hospitalism ).

See also


  • Erving Goffman: interaction. Have fun at the game role distance. Piper, Munich 1986.
  • Erving Goffman: rituals of interaction. Over-behavior in direct communication. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1999.
  • André Kieserling: Communication among those present. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1999.
  • Rolf Oerter , Leo Montada : Developmental Psychology. Beltz Verlag Union, Weinheim / Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-621-27479-0 .
  • Niklas Luhmann : Interaction, Organization, Society. In: Niklas Luhmann (ed.): Sociological Enlightenment. Part 2: Essays on the theory of society. Springer, Opladen 1975, pp. 9-20.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Dorsch Lexicon of Psychology - Verlag Hans Huber - Access Management. Retrieved June 10, 2020 .
  2. Uni Kassel: Interaction, Communication and Emotion. In: University of Kassel. Uni Kassel, 1992, accessed on June 8, 2020 (German).
  3. Meyer's Lexicon of Psychology. Mannheim / Vienna / Zurich 1986, p. 172.
  4. The Interktionsanalyse of NA Flanders there is described in: Peter Kick, Hanns Ott: Dictionary of Education. Auer Verlag, Donauwörth 1997, p. 333 ff.
  5. ^ Stanley Milgram: The Milgram Experiment. For obedience to authority. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1982, ISBN 3-499-17479-0 .
  6. see also 3.2 Developmental Psychology in this article
  7. ^ A b Heinz Abels: Introduction to Sociology. Volume 2: The individuals in their society. Wiesbaden 2004, p. 201 ff.
  8. ^ H. Abels: Introduction to Sociology. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2004.
  9. ^ Rolf Oerter, Leo Montada: Developmental Psychology. Weinheim / Basel / Berlin 2002, p. 6 f.
  10. Rolf Oerter, Eva Dreher: Adolescence. In: Rolf Oerter , Leo Montada : Developmental Psychology . Weinheim / Basel / Berlin 2002, p. 268 f.
  11. ^ Hospitalism: a supplementary report. In: Otto M. Ewert: Developmental Psychology. Volume 1, Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1972, p. 124 ff.
  12. The first year of life. In: Early Childhood Education. Piper series 1985, p. 89 ff.
  13. ^ Hospitalism I and Hospitalism II. In: Education in early childhood. Piper series, Munich 1985, p. 89 ff.
  14. The essence of love. In: Developmental Psychology. Volume 1, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1972, p. 128 ff.
  15. Aspects and problems of early development and upbringing (1). In: Norbert Kühne : teaching materials pedagogy - psychology . No. 694, Stark Verlag / Mediengruppe Pearson , Hallbergmoos 2012.
  16. Lucien Malson: The wild children. Suhrkamp paperback, Frankfurt 1976.
  17. Aspects and problems of early development and upbringing (1). In: Norbert Kühne: teaching materials pedagogy - psychology . No. 694, Stark Verlag / Mediengruppe Pearson, Hallbergmoos 2012.