Armed with charts, graphs, and numbers galore William R. Cupach informed a UCF audience on the issue of obsessive relational intrusion and stalking during his speech Tuesday at the Harris Corporation Engineering building on the UCF main campus.

During the hour and fifteen minute long speech Cupach doled out information in the form of charts, equations, and statistics to inform the audience of approximately 175 students, faculty, and alumni about the dangers of stalking and obsessive relational intrusion (ORI).


“Persistence pays off,” Cupach noted when speaking of the conventional wisdom in today’s society. Using his extensive research and knowledge in the field Cupach was able to enlighten the crowd on the line between simple persistence and ORI or stalking.


The speech, titled “The Dark Side of Interpersonal Attraction: Obsessive Relational Intrusion and Stalking,” was part of the College of Sciences Distinguished Speaker Series. Cupach is obviously a distinguished expert in his field as he has earned his PhD from the University of Southern California in Communication Arts and Sciences and has authored or co-authored 13 manuscripts.

The main focus of Cupach’s speaking was to inform those who knew little on the subject. Armed with a wealth of numbers and charts Cupach showed statistics on stalkers that ranged from how the pursued and the pursuer knew each other beforehand to how long stalking cases typically last. Claiming that 80% of stalking victims knew their stalker beforehand he pointed that many stalking cases are not simply psychopathic criminals following a pretty girl, rather they usually stem from prior relationships between two people.

Cupach also spoke of the blurred line between stalking and obsessive relational intrusion, a term he and his colleague Brian H. Spitzberg coined. ORI can range anywhere from persistent flirting to gift giving and lead up to surveillance, following, threats, and assault. All of the aforementioned are considered ORI while only extreme instances of threats and constant following constitute stalking.

While Cupach’s speech may have felt more like a classroom lecture than a guest speaker, it was nonetheless informative to a group of college students that are likely to be the ones dealing with such instances.

“I got a little confused with the equations on the last slides,” joked 23-year-old Sports and Exercise Science Major Daniel Geddings, “but I walked out of here with a lot more knowledge on stalking than I thought I would ever have.”

Cupach concluded his speech with the point that trends are changing when it comes to what is socially acceptable in the pursuit of love interests. This makes drawing the lines between what is considered intrusion and what is acceptable becoming harder and harder to define.

When fielding questions at the conclusion of the speech Cupach noted that he believes the many social networking mediums will only aid stalkers in the future, even though they surprisingly haven’t done so yet. Also when asked about the trends of ORI and stalking in other countries he stated how it was hard to measure those kinds of things with the social norms differing from region to region. One area might see an act as over the line while another might find it perfectly acceptable.