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To discuss social interactions, would which of the two best fit in different contexts. And are there different words that are used if the context is formal or casual?

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these are two different words with different meaning... where did you find them? –  Vogel612 Feb 28 at 16:39
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@Vogel612 The meaning of the two words may indeed be the same, depending on the scientific field you're talking about. For example, in physics both are fully equivalent. –  Toscho Feb 28 at 16:49
    
@Toscho I would file that under corner case... –  Vogel612 Feb 28 at 17:21
    
No corner case until you give me many scientific counterexamples. –  Toscho Feb 28 at 19:25
    
@Vogel612 I used an online translation service and they both came up. –  JGallardo Feb 28 at 22:56

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Interaktion

is the only suitable term, as it implies that the interacting parties themselves determine the aspects of their interaction.

Wechselwirkung

describes effects due to some external force (hardly applicable to people at all unless referring in a quirky way to laws of nature, e.g. mutual attraction of two people in zero-gravity space or bouncing back from each other when colliding on an ice rink) or effects whose origin is beyond conscious psychological processes (like feeling physical attraction).

(There are people who would deny that Interaktion requires consciousness. However, if you subscribe to this point of view, the term loses much of its discriminatory power and certainly subsumes non-social stimulus-response situations)

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