Jon A Hess

Contact Information

Jon A Hess

Professor; Chair

  • Full-Time Faculty


Dr. Jon Hess's scholarship centers on relationship maintenance. His research examines how people deal with challenges in maintaining relationships, such as getting along with people we dislike, managing closeness and distance in intimate relationships, and talking about sex. He also examines how relational dynamics such as immediacy or face support affect educational outcomes in college classes. His research has been published in Human Communication Research, Personal Relationships, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Communication Education, and others.

Jon's research has been recognized with the International Network on Personal Relationships dissertation award for best dissertation in 1996-1997 and with five top-four awards for papers he has presented at regional and national conferences. He has been a correspondent with a variety of media outlets, doing numerous newspaper, radio, and TV interviews about his research. Media outlets have included the BBC, Boston Globe, Cosmopolitan, and more. At the University of Missouri, where he served from 1997-2008, he was recognized as the inaugural recipient of the iCOM Outstanding Professor Award (iCOM is the MU communication department's undergraduate student organization).

Faculty Perspective

I love being at a university that balances teaching with scholarship. The opportunity to conduct research allows faculty to keep themselves at the cutting edge, and the emphasis on teaching gives students the benefit of that research at faculty bring their expertise into the classroom. And, I'm impressed with the sense of community that exists here. For both students and faculty, UD offers the opportunity for development and accomplishment, and does so in an environment that feels welcoming and supportive.


  • PhD, University of Minnesota (1996)
  • M.A., Ohio University (1991)
  • B.S., Manchester College (1989)

Research Interests

  • Relational maintenance
  • Maintaining difficult relationships
  • Closeness and distance in relationships
  • Communication about sex
  • Impact of relational messages on classroom outcomes

Selected Publications

Kerssen-Griep, J., Trees, A. R., & Hess, J. A. (2008). "Attentive facework during instructional feedback: Key to perceiving mentorship and an optimal learning environment." Communication Education, 57, 312-332.

Hess, J. A., Fannin, A. D., & Pollom, L. H. (2007). "Creating closeness: Discerning and measuring strategies for fostering closer relationships." Personal Relationships, 14, 25-44.

Hess, J. A. (2006). "Distancing from problematic coworkers." In J. M. H. Fritz & B. L. Omdahl (Eds.), Problematic relationships in the workplace (pp. 205-232). New York: Peter Lang Publishers.

Smythe, M. J., & Hess, J. A. (2005). "Are student self-reports a valid method for measuring teacher nonverbal immediacy?" Communication Education, 54, 170-179.

Hess, J. A. (2002). "Distance regulation in personal relationships: The development of a conceptual model and a test of representational validity." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 19, 663-683.