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Self-Help Books on Relational Communication: Who’s Writing Them and What Advice Are They Giving?
Unformatted Document Text:  Self-Help Literature 2 Popular Self-Help Books on Communication in Relationships: Who’s writing them and what advice are they giving? Abstract The self-help industry is rife with books offering advice in relational communication. Interpersonal communication experts should be concerned with the credibility of these self-help authors and the advice they are dispensing. This paper combines two studies addressing these issues. Study one involved examination of the qualifications of 31 authors of 35 different popular self-help books related to communication in relationships. The results revealed that none had degrees in communication. Nineteen of the authors had earned Doctorates, most in the field of Psychology, but fewer than half of the authors had dissertations listed in the Dissertation Abstracts database. Many were licensed clinicians or certified family therapists but only 14 authors had published at least one article or book chapter listed in the PsychInfo database. Study two sought to uncover whether or not there were overarching themes in the most popular self-help books and what types of evidence the authors used to substantiate their claims. Fourteen books were selected for a close content analysis. Five themes were identified: using a banking or accounting analogy, dividing individuals or couples into styles or types, elaborating on a series of steps in order to implement the strategies offered, referring to childhood as a cause for current relational problems, and offering exercises for readers to apply the advice offered. Analysis of the types of evidence used for claims offered in the books suggested that most authors rely on anecdotal evidence but some of the non- academic authors used empirical research to back their claims. Implications for future research in the area of interpersonal communication are discussed.

Authors: Dunbar, Norah. and Abra, Gordon.
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Self-Help Literature 2
Popular Self-Help Books on Communication in Relationships: Who’s writing them and what advice
are they giving?
Abstract
The self-help industry is rife with books offering advice in relational communication.
Interpersonal communication experts should be concerned with the credibility of these self-help
authors and the advice they are dispensing. This paper combines two studies addressing these
issues. Study one involved examination of the qualifications of 31 authors of 35 different popular
self-help books related to communication in relationships. The results revealed that none had
degrees in communication. Nineteen of the authors had earned Doctorates, most in the field of
Psychology, but fewer than half of the authors had dissertations listed in the Dissertation Abstracts
database. Many were licensed clinicians or certified family therapists but only 14 authors had
published at least one article or book chapter listed in the PsychInfo database. Study two sought to
uncover whether or not there were overarching themes in the most popular self-help books and what
types of evidence the authors used to substantiate their claims. Fourteen books were selected for a
close content analysis. Five themes were identified: using a banking or accounting analogy, dividing
individuals or couples into styles or types, elaborating on a series of steps in order to implement the
strategies offered, referring to childhood as a cause for current relational problems, and offering
exercises for readers to apply the advice offered. Analysis of the types of evidence used for claims
offered in the books suggested that most authors rely on anecdotal evidence but some of the non-
academic authors used empirical research to back their claims. Implications for future research in
the area of interpersonal communication are discussed.


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