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Theories of Communication in Developing Relationships Hello, I love you. Wont you tell me your name?

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Presentation on theme: "Theories of Communication in Developing Relationships Hello, I love you. Wont you tell me your name?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Theories of Communication in Developing Relationships Hello, I love you. Wont you tell me your name?

2 Social Penetration Theory Social Penetration Theory (SPT) Altman and Taylor SPT has been developed further by communication scholars SPT is a post-positivist theory of the broad scope of relational development

3 Social Penetration Theory: Stages Orientation Stage: Interaction ruled by social convention and formulas Exploratory Affective Stage: Interactants begin to share more information and are more relaxed and friendly Affective Stage: Close friendships and romantic relationships in which a great deal of open exchange occurs Stable Exchange Stage: Continuing openness and richness in interaction

4 Social Penetration Theory: Breadth and Depth of Exchange As people move through these stages, both the breadth and depth of information exchange increase (onion model of SPT) Self-disclosure: Any communication shared about ones selfintimate or not SD changes through relational development: Norm of reciprocity Peripheral before private Rate of disclosure begins to slow at deeper levels

5 A different view of the onion Depth Breadth

6 Metts add (1) The onion model not used much anymore; self-disclosure is more cyclical than continuously wider and deeper

7 Social Exchange Processes The motivation to move in and out of relationships is explained by Social Exchange Theory Social Exchange Theory--economic model: outcomes, comparison level and comparison level of alternatives People motivated to be in relationships that provide them with high levels of rewards and low levels of costs.

8 Rewards positive consequences of being in a relationship Emotional: positive affect when with partner (love, warmth, etc.) Social: activities, events, other people Instrumental: partner helps accomplish tasks Opportunity: relationship allows you to do something you couldnt do otherwise

9 Costs negative consequences of being in a relationship Emotional: negative affect with partner Social: having to do socially undesired activities/interact with partners friends Instrumental: partner prevents tasks from being accomplished or creates more work Opportunity: life experiences given up for the sake of the relationship

10 Outcomes The outcome refers to the overall level of profit or deficit in relationships rewards – costs = outcome Relationships are generally rewarding when outcomes are positive, and generally costly when outcomes are negative

11 Comparison Level Comparison level (CL) : standard by which people evaluate their relationships how rewarding or costly you expect your relationship to be based on prior experience, family model, friends, media, etc. Outcome - CL= Satisfaction When outcome meets or exceeds the CL, people are satisfied. When the outcome falls under the CL, people are dissatisfied.

12 Comparison Level for Alternatives Comparison Level for Alternatives (CLAlt) perceptions that an alternative to the relationship exists (another partner, being single, etc.) Poor alternatives are related to more commitment Good alternatives are related to less commitment

13 Combined Effect of CL and CL Alt CL Alt Poor Good The Relationship: Meets or Exceeds CL Fails to Meet CL Satisfied and Committed Satisfied but Uncommitted Dissatisfied but Committed Dissatisfied and Uncommitted

14 Original Investment Model Costs CL Satisfaction Investment CL Alt Commit- ment Stability Rewards

15 Current Investment Model Rewards Costs CL Satisfaction Investments CL-Alt Commit. Benign Attribs. & Emots. Accomm. Behavior Decision to remain Accommodate partner Not retaliate Derogation of alternatives Willingness to sacrifice Perc. rel. superiority Stabl.

16 Metts add: Equity Theory Equity theory compares the ratio of contributions (costs) versus benefits (rewards) for each relational partner This ratio does not have to be equal for equity to exist; rather it has to be equivalent. Ex: Christy has a cost/reward ratio of 5/10 Steve has a cost/reward ratio of 3/6. In an equitable relationship, both partners are getting a fair deal based on their benefits vs. contributions.

17 The Concept of Inequity When one partner is getting a worse deal in comparison to the other partner, there is inequity. A person can feel under-benefited or over- benefited. A person can have more rewards than costs and still be under-benefited by comparison. Example: Ted has a r/c ratio of 12/8 while his partner, Emily, has a r/c ratio of 12/3.

18 SPT: Development and Tests of Theory Support for many predictions of SPT Esp. role of self-disclosure But difficult to test full range of theory over development of real-life relationships SPT has also been criticized for being an overly rational and economic model of rel. development (where is emotion? Planalp) Metts add: Is it really the sum of costs and rewards or the salient/magnitude?

19 SPT, cont. Paradoxically, it has also been critiqued for the ideology of total openness as an ideal Knapps stage model is contemporary (1978) but more communication focused (includes social network, ritualized bonding, and coming apart stagesnext slide) More recent approaches are dialectical theory (covered in ch. 11) and turning points


21 Turning Points analysis Turning Points Meeting Parents C First Sex Reunion O M I First Fight Time apart T M E N T Time

22 Uncertainty Reduction Theory Uncertainty Reduction Theory (URT): Berger & Calabrese (1975) URT originally designed to explain processes of initial interaction URT considers ways in which interactants attempt to reduce cognitive uncertainty when we first interact with someone predictive and explanatory uncertainty cognitive and behavioral uncertainty

23 Form of URT URT is an axiomatic theory URT begins with 7 basic axioms (e.g., High levels of uncertainty cause increases in information seeking. As uncertainty levels decline, information seeking decreases, p. 177, Table 10.1). Axioms are not unquestioned truths, but are the untestable building blocks of the theory URT then logically combines these axioms to derive 21 testable theorems

24 UNC VCNVAInfo- Skg RecipIntimSimilLiking UNC --- 1.VC--- 2. NVA--- 3. Info- Seeking --- 4. Intimacy --- 5. Recip--- 6. Simil--- 7. Liking---

25 Uncertainty Reduction Theory: Developments URT has been extended to consider strategies for reducing uncertainty. active (asking others, manipulating environ.), passive (observing) interactive (self-disclosure & questions) URT has been extended to consider motivations for reducing uncertainty. These include incentives, deviation, and possibility of future interaction

26 Uncertainty Reduction Theory: Tests and Critiques URT has received some evidence for both basic predictions and extensions regarding information search and motivations URT has been critiqued in terms of the motivational force that drives information seeking. Critics contend that anticipating future interaction (anticipating positive and negative relational outcomes) is more important than uncertainty reduction (SunnafrankPredicted Outcome Value)

27 Uncertainty Reduction Theory: Expansions URT has been expanded to consider relationships beyond initial interaction Events that increase uncertainty in established rels. Levels of uncertaintyself, partner, relationship URT has been expanded to uncertainty in intercultural relationshipsGudykunsts Anxiety Uncertainty Management theory (includes social and cultural identity; anxiety as emotion + uncertainty as cognitive, and intercultural adaptation as outcome) The uncertainty concept has also been applied to research in organizational socialization and social support

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