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 Communication’s role in maintaining relationships.

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Presentation on theme: " Communication’s role in maintaining relationships."— Presentation transcript:

1  Communication’s role in maintaining relationships

2 Maintaining relationships  All relationships require maintenance. Of course, different relationships require different types of maintenance, and some will require more time and attention than others.  Although many factors have been found to be significant in relational maintenance; communication has been the most critical factor in all the various types of relationships.

3 Defining communication  Communication has been defined as any process in which a message containing information is transferred, especially from one person to another, via any of a number of media.  Communication may be verbal or nonverbal; it may occur directly, such as in a face-to-face conversation or with the observation of a gesture; or it may occur remotely, spanning space an time such as in writing.  Communication contributes to the development and maintenance of ALL relationships

4  Communicate the following behaviors to your neighbor without verbal communication

5  Happiness

6  Sadness

7  Anger

8 Communication  Communication also involves how we express our cognitions (thoughts, ideas, and feelings) to others, including what we say and how we say it.  But when we communicate with others, we also communicate attitudes, values, priorities, and beliefs.

9 Defining communication  Interpersonal communication: Information has to be SENT from one person and RECEIVED by another person.  The sender can become the receiver and the receiver can become the sender at any time in a conversation.  Can be verbal and/or nonverbal

10 Maintaining relationships  Good communication is the foundation of successful relationships, both in familial and romantic ones. But we communicate with much more than words.

11 Communication factors in relationships  Attribution style  Self Disclosure

12 Maintaining relationships  Fincham, Bradbury, and Scott (1990) have suggested that it is important to understand the role cognitions play in driving emotional expression, behavioral interactions, an satisfaction in marriage.  Much of the cognitive research has been in the area of attribution, focusing on the explanations spouses give for behavior within the marriage.


14 Attributions in relationships  The majority of empirical work using Attribution Theory in relationships concerns the processes and effects of attributions in married couples.  Only some of this work centers on communication processes, but all of it is relevant to understanding the role of attributions in maintaining interpersonal interaction.

15 Attributions in relationships  Trained as a clinical psychologist at the University of Illinois, Dr. Bradbury studies how intimate relationships develop and change.  A large body of his research as been in the role of attributing styles in developing relationships.

16 Attributions in relationships  In an impressive body of research, Thomas Bradbury, and colleagues have supported the assumption that attributions play a causal role in both the development and the breakdown of close relationships.  Their theoretical analysis emphasizes that context always must be taken into account in understanding communication in relationships.

17 Attributions in  Their research has shown that spouses in distressed relationships attribute the causes of their partners' behavior in ways that lead them to perceive those causes as internal character flaws of their partners.

18 Attributions in  Those in stable relationships, on the other hand, explain the causes of their difficulties in more caring ways, such as attributing them to outside circumstances (Bradbury & Fincham, 1990).  (Read more: pg. 280-281 Human Relationships packet)

19 Attributions in relationships  In their 1998 journal, they asserted: “There is increasing evidence that attribution communication for negative marital events (e.g. partner comes home late from work) can increase the probability of conflict behavior (e.g. “he only thinks about himself and his needs”)…  Such conflict-promoting attributions are related to (a) less effective problem-solving behaviors, (b) more negative behaviors during problem-solving and support-giving tasks, and (c) specific affects (whining and anger) displayed during problem-solving.”

20 Attributions in relationships  This research is essentially based on fundamental attribution error which states that people in unhealthy relationships tend to make personal attributions more often than contextual attributions.

21 Attributions in relationships  This body of research suggests attributions that partners make about each other are associated with levels of satisfaction with the relationship as well as their behavior toward each other.  Negative communication (associated with negative attributions) usually cause dissatisfaction and may eventually lead to the end of a relationship.

22  How can fundamental attribution error negatively impact relationships?

23 Examples of attributions in relationships.  In a happy relationship, if your partner brings home flowers, you’re likely to attribute it to the partner’s warm, loving personality.  In an unhappy relationship, if your partner brings home flowers for an anniversary/Valentine’s you might discount their wanted behavior by explaining it as situational.

24  How much should a friend or intimate partner know about you?

25 Self disclosure.  Maintaining a close relationship with another person requires a certain level of intimacy.  Gradually, you begin to feel comfortable enough with the other person to trust him or her with your feelings, your dreams, and your self-doubts, and be confident that the other will not reject or blame you. This is called Self-disclosure.

26 Self disclosure.  Self-disclosure can be defined as the intentional sharing of personal information about oneself.  Disclosure may include sharing both high-risk and low-risk information as well as personal experiences, ideas and attitudes, feelings and values, past facts and life stories, and even future hopes, dreams, ambitions, and goals.  In sharing information about yourself, you make choices about what to share and with whom to share it.

27  Why is this so important in our relationships?

28 Self disclosure.  Normally, to achieve this kind of intimacy, we rely on reciprocity. If you tell me something about yourself, I'll tell you something about me.  Over time, the exchange deepens and the two people disclose more and more information to one another. Disclosing something about yourself makes both strangers and friends feel closer and empathetic.  Self-Disclosure has been found to be very important in maintaining intimate relationships.

29 Self Disclosure in research  Drawing on social exchange theory, Altman and Taylor sought to explain some of the decisions people make about whether to share information about themselves.  As a way of visualizing this process, Altman and Taylor use the metaphor of an onion and its layers of rings.

30 Self Disclosure in research Self-disclosure has been studied on various types of relationships across a variety of cultures.  Families (Golish, 2000; Turner & West, 2002),  Teachers (Russ, Simonds, & Hunt, 2002)  Marriages (Dickson & Walker, 2001),  Physician–Patient relationships (Agne, Thompson, & Cusella, 2000)

31 Self Disclosure in research  Disclosure begins on the outer layer and proceeds to the core of the onion.  These authors also suggest that there are two levels of disclosure. The first level is called the breadth dimension. This is the skin of the onion and its most outer layers. In terms of self-disclosure, this layer is largely made up of superficial information about ourselves that we commonly share with a number of different people.

32 Self Disclosure in research  On this superficial level, there is a great deal of information that will likely cost little to disclose.  Later, in a relationship, communicators gradually share a higher depth of information.  Information at the depth level is more significant and more central to who we are.

33 Self Disclosure in research  Thus, sharing information from our depth may incur greater risk taking.  The information from this dimension of self is typically known by and held in confidence by only a few people.

34 Self Disclosure in research  Sometimes, it includes very strong feelings, beliefs, and concerns. It may also include secrets, regrets or hurtful experiences, and painful memories. Information from the depth dimension, which is more private and significant, will likely be exchanged later in a relationship.  Thus, sharing these depth level feelings essential shares a part of who we are with with another person. This leads to stronger and more trusting relationships. 

35 Self Disclosure in research  When Altman and Taylor (1987) developed their model, they hypothesized that self-disclosure and relational development followed a linear path.  According to this view of the theory, relationships grow as communicators become more willing to self- disclose information.

36 Self Disclosure in research  Relationships may also go through a process of “depenetration”, as partners stop sharing information.  Periods of social penetration may be followed by periods of depenetration. We may move forward in a relationship, becoming closer, but then pull back before becoming closer again.

37 Critique of Altman & Taylor’s theory  Relationships may also go through a process of “depenetration”, as partners stop sharing information.  Periods of social penetration may be followed by periods of depenetration. We may move forward in a relationship, becoming closer, but then pull back before becoming closer again.

38 Gender Differences Masculine and Feminine Styles  Research shows that woman are somewhat more willing than men to share their feelings  In terms of amount and depth:  Female – Female were at the top  Male – Female came in second  Male – Male had the least disclosure  Generalizations do not apply to every person  Biological sex is not as important as the chosen gender role when expressing emotion

39 Cultural differences Cultural Influences on Intimacy  Notions of public and private selves have changed over time  Collectivist cultures  Generally do not reach out to outsiders, often waiting until they are properly introduced before entering into conversation  Individualistic cultures  Make fewer distinctions between personal relationships and casual ones

40  Can self-disclosure be related to attraction ? Read more: 279-282

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