Date of Award

8-2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Autumn Edwards

Second Advisor

Dr. Leigh Ford

Third Advisor

Dr. Chad Edwards

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Abstract

Although much scholarly attention has focused on peak experiences, there have been minimal attempts to investigate peak communication experiences (PCEs) (e.g., Gordon, 1983). There have been no attempts to examine PCEs in dyadic relationships, and more specifically in friendship. PCEs refer to one's greatest moments in interpersonal communication in which one feels mutually understood and enriched (Gordon, 1983). Exploring PCEs in the context of friendship may provide additional understanding about levels of friendship, friendship values, and friends' dependence on one another to cope with difficult events. This study utilizes a qualitative phenomenological approach in which data is collected from 13 semi-structured interviews to examine the nature and effects of PCEs on friendship. Interview questions focus on friends recounting peak moments in conversation. The analysis reveals three themes for both the nature and outcomes of friends' PCEs. Themes for the nature of friends' PCEs include: sharing a difficult or traumatic experience, sense of companionship, and sense of helpfulness. Themes for the outcome of friends' PCEs include: increased self-disclosure, friendship turning points, and a new perspective. Results demonstrated both personal and relational growth for friends. The scholarly and practical implications as well as limitations and future directions are discussed.

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