Crossing Disciplines

My post last week on the differences between theater and communication work on effectively communicating science started me down a path of thinking on the many disciplines I have come across that often refer to the same thing with different words and perspectives.

A professor at my undergraduate institution once told me that communication and psychology are closely related, but communication is focused on the message while psychology is focused on the mind. Research in various scholarly journals will show that persuasion from a communication perspective looks at how can we design a particular message or document or video (etc.) to persuade a person more. Psychology in contrast looks at how that person receives a particular message. Nevertheless, there is much overlap where the two disciplines do not often agree on terms or how to treat certain concepts.

Similarly, public relations is often analyzed in the communication department and business schools. The particular tone of articles depends heavily on what journal it is published in and who publishes it: a comm or business scholar?

I think this shows a good bit of misunderstanding in each discipline that keeps their distance from the others. But for non-comm scholars it may seem easier to understand the message as a simple object to manipulate in a research study with little bearing on the results. As a comm scholar, I would make the same errors in my understanding of what variables are truly at play.

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