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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $142.99

Paperback, eBook
512 pp.
125 photos, 21 Figures, 30 Tables, 8" x 10"


Copyright Year:

Imprint: OUP Canada

Understanding Human Communication

Fourth Canadian Edition

Ronald B. Adler, George Rodman and Alexandre Sevigny

A comprehensive overview of human communication from a Canadian perspective

Praised by students and instructors alike for its engaging approach and reader-friendly design, this fourth Canadian edition prepares students to become effective communicators in both their personal and professional lives. With a strong focus on the influence of culture and technology throughout, the text examines a range of contemporary topics from online social networks to group dynamics.

Readership : Suitable for courses in human communication at the first- and second-year level in university communications programs and a wide variety of programs at colleges (e.g., social work, nursing, health sciences, management, physical education).


  • "It's a comprehensive survey-style textbook that introduces students to the major divisions in communications as a discipline. It's bright and accessibly written with current Canadian content."
    --Leslie Vermeer, Grant MacEwan University


    "This is not only a student-centred text, it is a Canadian student-centred text: it is filled with relevant, topical examples that Canadian students can identify with. It is a breath of fresh air for our students who are tired of reading American statistics and American examples."
    --Jennifer Taylor, University of Prince Edward Island

Note: All chapters include:
- Learning Objectives
- Chapter Highlights
- Summary
- Key Terms
- Activities
- Further Reading
- Study Questions
- TED Talks
From the Publisher
Part I: Elements of Communication
1. Human Communication: What and Why
Communication Defined
Types of Communication
Functions of Communication
Modelling Communication
Communication Competence: What Makes an Effective Communicator?
Clarifying Misconceptions about Communication
2. Perception, the Self, and Communication
Simple Truths, Important Lessons: How Communication Shapes Perception
Perceiving Others
Perceiving the Self
Identity Management: Communication as Impression Management
3. Language
The Nature of Language
Endangered Language NEW
The Power of Language
Troublesome Language
Gender and Language
Culture and Language
4. Non-Verbal Communication
Characteristics of Non-Verbal Communication
Influences on Non-Verbal Communication
Functions of Non-Verbal Communication
Types of Non-Verbal Communication
Social Media and Non-Verbal Communication NEW
5. Listening
Misconceptions about Listening
Overcoming Challenges to Effective Listening
Personal Listening Styles
Informational Listening
Critical Listening
Empathetic Listening
PART II: Interpersonal Communication
6. Interpersonal Relationships
Characteristics of Interpersonal Relationships
Intimacy in Interpersonal Relationships
Relational Development and Maintenance
Communication Climates in Interpersonal Relationships
Managing Interpersonal Conflict
PART III: Communication in Groups
7. Social Media
Social Media
Types of Social Media
Social Media, the Self, and Society
Social Media and Mobility
Social Media, Public Relations, and Marketing
Social Media and Traditional Media
Social Media, Artificial Intelligence, and the Internet of Things NEW
Using Social Media Effectively
Dangers of Social Media
Key Theories of Communication
8. Group Communication
What is a Group?
Goals of Groups and Their Members
Types of Groups
Characteristics of Groups
Cultural Influences on Group Communication
Problem-Solving in Groups: When and Why
Group Problem-Solving Formats
Approaches and Stages in Problem-Solving
Maintaining Positive Relationships
Overcoming Dangers in Group Discussion
PART IV: Persuasion and Public Communication
9. Persuasion, Leadership, and Power
Characteristics of Persuasion
Categorizing Types of Persuasion
Creating the Persuasive Message
Interpersonal Persuasion
Leadership, Power, and Persuasion
10. Writing and Delivering Speeches
Choosing a Topic
Defining Purpose
Structuring the Speech
The Body of the Speech
Supporting Material
Holding the Audience's Attention
Analyzing the Audience
Analyzing the Occasion
Building Credibility as a Communicator
Dealing with Stage Fright
Sample Speech
I. Communicating for Career Success
The Selection Interview

Instructor's Manual:
- Discussion questions
- Suggestions for lectures
- Suggested classroom activities
- Activities to Promote Critical and Creative Thinking
- Teaching activities
- List of supplementary resources
- TED Talk resources for each chapter NEW
Test Bank:
- Match questions
- Multiple choice questions
- True-or-false questions
- Fill-in-the-blank questions
- Short answer questions
PowerPoint Slides:
Summaries and key points for each chapter
Image Bank:
- All photos, cartoons, tables, charts and figures from the text available electronically
Student Study Guide:
- Activities
- Self-grading quizzes
- TED Talk resources for each chapter NEW
- Samples of cover letters and CVs NEW
E-Book ISBN 9780199030712
Looseleaf ISBN 9780199034673

Ronald B. Adler is professor emeritus in the Department of Communication, Santa Barbara City College.

George Rodman is a professor of television and radio at Brooklyn College, CUNY.

Alexandre Sévigny is an associate professor and director of the Master of Communications Management Program in the Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia at McMaster University.

Making Sense - Margot Northey

Special Features

  • In-depth treatment of the four main areas of communication - verbal/nonverbal, interpersonal, group, and public speaking - offers students a comprehensive introduction to the discipline.
  • Seamless integration of Canadian social and cultural references throughout makes the material relevant to students in this country.
  • Links theory to real life through a balanced treatment of communication theory and its real-world applications.
  • Engaging, student-friendly writing style talks to students, not at them presenting material clearly without being overly simplistic.
  • Current coverage of cutting-edge topics such as technology, gender, and cultural diversity, as well as communication styles and methods makes this the most up-to-date text of its kind.
  • Extensive box program:
  • - Communicating Online boxes show students how to use social media and other online communication tools effectively in both personal and professional contexts.
  • - Critical Thinking Probe boxes encourage students to think more deeply about aspects of human communication.
  • - Understanding Diversity boxes address topics of interest to Canada's diverse student population.
  • - Understanding Communication Technology boxes focus on topics such as cyberbullying, digital distraction, and how to use social media to find a job.
  • - Cultural Idiom boxes offer marginal definitions of cultural idioms to help English as an Additional Language (EAL) students make sense of colloquial expressions.
  • - Communication On-Screen boxes feature examples from popular films such as Arrival, Argo, and Silver Linings Playbook, demonstrating the important role communication plays in our everyday lives.
  • - Young Communicator Profile boxes feature successful Canadian communicators in various high-profile positions, inspiring students to pursue one of the many career paths open to successful communicators.
  • Vibrant full-colour design includes photographs, informative figures and tables, cartoons, and thought-provoking quotations.
  • Appendix on communicating for career success guides students through the process of interviewing for a job - including conducting background research, making a good impression, and preparing thoughtful answers to common interview questions.
New to this Edition
  • New and enhanced coverage of social media and online communication ensures students have the most up-to-date information on these key topics.
  • Updated discussions of gender and communication theory provide a contemporary look at this topic.
  • Streamlined coverage of interpersonal relationships and group communication provides a more concise treatment of these topics.
  • New TED Talks feature at the end of each chapter directs students to relevant videos that illustrate concepts covered in the text.
  • Thorough updates throughout make this a current and engaging introduction to human communication, reflecting the most recent research available.