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Accomplishing “rapport” in qualitative research interviews: Empathic moments in interaction

Matthew T. Prior
Published Online: 2017-05-05 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2017-0029


This study seeks to bring a more interactionally grounded perspective to the concept of “rapport” and its relevance for qualitative interviewing practices. Building on work within conversation analysis (CA), it respecifies rapport as affiliation and, more specifically, empathy. Analysis centers on case study data from an interview with an asylum seeker from the Philippines. It examines how interviewer and interviewee move in and out of empathic moments across the interview sequences as they manage their affective stances related to the events the interviewee describes and, in turn, by managing their empathic alignments with each other. These empathic moments share a number of features: they primarily come after response delays and the interviewee’s response pursuits, they are part of assessment sequences built by lexical reformulation and repetition, they entail stance matching and upgrading mainly through the use of prosodic resources, and they involve the interviewee asserting his primary rights to characterize and assess his own experiences. The article concludes by recommending more attention to the affiliative and empathic dimensions of qualitative interviewing.

Keywords: interviews; conversation analysis; rapport; empathy; emotion


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About the article

Published Online: 2017-05-05

Published in Print: 2018-10-25

Citation Information: Applied Linguistics Review, Volume 9, Issue 4, Pages 487–511, ISSN (Online) 1868-6311, ISSN (Print) 1868-6303, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2017-0029.

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