The Role of Couples' Conversations in Relational Development: A Content Analysis of Courtship Talk in Harlequin Romance Novels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


The present study analyzes male/female couples' use of conversation to develop romantic relationships. It focuses upon Knapp's first four stages of relational development: initiating, experimenting, intensifying, and integrating. The study attempts to determine whether or not specific conversational features are used consistently by courtship couples to create and develop romantic relationships. A conversational analysis was performed on all of the male/female courtship couples' conversation from ten Harelquin romance novels. The examination determined that three specific features of conversation recurred throughout the four stages of relational development: metatalk, face-threatening acts, and mitigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-142
Number of pages16
JournalCommunication Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1986
Externally publishedYes



  • conversation
  • Courtship
  • face-threat
  • fiction
  • Harlequin novels
  • interpersonal relationships
  • meta-talk
  • mitigation
  • relationships
  • romance
  • romance novels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

Cite this