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Interpersonal Modes of Knowing


by Ellen Berscheid — 1985

It is not the purpose of this chapter to review what is known of the role other people play in determining what an individual does or does not know, or even to document the assertion that most modes of knowing are, either directly or indirectly and to a greater or lesser extent, "interpersonal." Rather, the aims here are more limited and only three in number. The first aim simply is to highlight the importance to each individual, whether child or adult, of "knowing" the people who populate his or her world, for this is a prerequisite for interacting effectively with them. The second aim is to discuss briefly the fact that much of this knowledge, or "social intelligence," and most of these interaction skills, or "social competence," are obtained within the individual's actual ongoing personal relationships rather than through formal instruction. Third, since the formal educational system provides both the opportunities for, and the context of, many of the interpersonal relationships from which social intelligence and social competence are learned (if they are learned at all), I shall discuss the proposition that decisions about how best to impart impersonal knowledge and skills—decisions that may include curricula, class size and composition, teacher-training, computerized instruction, reward structure, and so on—all inevitably influence, in ways both known and currently unknown, the development of social intelligence and competence.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 84, No. 2.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 86 Number 6, 1985, p. 60-76
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 19132, Date Accessed: 10/20/2017 3:43:07 PM

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About the Author
  • Ellen Berscheid
    University of Minnesota
    E-mail Author
    ELLEN BERSCHEID is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Minnesota.
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