Lisa Guntzviller is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
lguntzviller (at) gmail (dot) com
I have broad interests in interpersonal, family, and health communication, mainly with underserved populations (e.g., low-income, minority).
My research examines interpersonal communication situations in which identities are challenged and contested. Close relational partners often engage in communication situations in which certain identities are salient. For example, when a parent gives exercise advice to a college-age child, the child’s body image and identity as an independent adult become relevant to the conversation. Individuals vary in their abilities to communicate in ways that respect their own and their partner’s identities, and reinforce positive feelings about the relationship. Variations in communication quality impact relational satisfaction, subsequent behaviors (e.g., health behaviors), assessments of one’s self-worth, and well-being.
Identity dilemmas arise when people need to accomplish a communication task and must fill a communication role that challenges a partner’s identity. I explore two such situations: language brokering (when bilingual children translate and culturally mediate for a monolingual parent) and advice giving in close relationships. The tasks of language brokering and giving advice present inherent identity dilemmas; language brokering requires the child to speak for a parent while also respecting the parent’s authority, while giving advice suggests the other person has a problem and is not capable of handling it independently. My research focuses on parent-child relationships, Spanish-speaking families, and discussions of health issues.
Three overarching questions drive my research. First, how do specific conversation contexts highlight identity dilemmas that impact communication? Second, how do people simultaneously attend to task, relational, and identity goals in their communication? For example, how do language brokers translate an offensive comment to a parent? Multiple goals theory proposes that individuals who simultaneously attend to task, relational, and identity goals have better communication outcomes. I test and extend these theoretical propositions in language brokering and advice contexts. Finally, I aim to understand the communication process from both parties’ perspectives (e.g., advisor and advisee). Interpersonal research often focuses on one communication role (e.g., how advisors create messages or how recipients interpret messages) and theoretical propositions often apply to only one person’s perspective. My work theorizes how both individuals in a close relationship approach communicative situations, communicate during the interaction, and perceive the conversation and its outcomes. I work within multiple goals theory to create this dyadic perspective in research on language brokering and advice giving contexts. I also expand advice recipient theorizing to propose a dyadic understanding of the advice process. Therefore, my two research lines aim to identify identity challenges inherent to the communication context, to apply a multiple goals theory perspective to understand communication, and to theorize from a dyadic perspective.