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Social Penetration Theory

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Presentation on theme: "Social Penetration Theory"— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Penetration Theory
Altman & Taylor chapter 9, Em Griffin (4th ed.)

Social Penetration theory teaches that you can become intimate with people quickly if you tell them all your secrets soon after meeting them. TRUE___A.___ FALSE__B.____

3 Social Penetration Theory
Explains how relational closeness develops; Altman and Taylor compare people to onions; The onion metaphor represents the multi-layered nature of personality; The outer layer contains the public self that is viewable by anyone; The inner layers progressively contain more and more about our attitudes, values, self-concept, unresolved conflicts and deeply felt emotions;

4 Closeness Through Self-Disclosure
By allowing others to penetrate beneath the surface, we can draw close to one another; There are many routes to vulnerability or allowing the other in, but the main route to deep social penetration is through self-disclosure;

5 The Depth and Breadth of Self-Disclosure
The depth of penetration is the degree of intimacy; The theory is not limited to romantic relationships, it is equally about friendship; The process of developing intimacy: peripheral items are exchanged more frequently and sooner than private information; Self-disclosure is reciprocal; new acquaintances will reach roughly equal levels of openness;

6 The Depth and Breadth of Self-Disclosure
Penetration is rapid at the start but slows down quickly as the tightly wrapped inner layers are reached; Instant intimacy is a myth; Depenetration is a gradual process of layer-by-layer withdrawal; -- relational retreat is a taking back of what has earlier been exchanged--a movie shown in reverse--a gradual cooling off;

7 The Breadth of Self-Disclosure
Breadth is equally important to depth; Breadth refers to the range of topics;

8 Regulating Closeness on the Basis of Rewards and Costs
Cost benefit-analysis: pluses and minuses or perceived benefits and costs of the relationship Social Exchange Theory (Thibaut & Kelley)

9 Outcome: Rewards Minus Costs
Social exchange theory (Thibaut and Kelley) attempts to quantify the value of different outcomes for an individual; A number represents the rewards minus the costs of a course of action; Just imagine that the benefits of a relationship equal +14 and the costs (what you imagine to be costs) equal -6, the outcome equals +8 [14-6 = 8];

10 Outcome: Rewards Minus Costs
This idea of calculating the rewards and costs goes back to John Stuart Mill; The principle is that people seek to maximize their rewards and minimize their costs; So, the higher the relational outcome number, the more attractive that outcome;

11 Outcome: Rewards Minus Costs
Social exchange theorists assume that we can accurately guage the payoffs and that we can choose the action that gives the best results; Bottom line:We base our decision to open up with another person on the perceived benefit-minus-cost outcome; What we see as benefits and costs changes over time in a relationship;

12 Satisfaction--Comparison Level (CL)
A relational outcome number, say, +8 only has meaning when compared with other outcome values; Social Exchange Theory offers 2 standards of comparison: relative satisfaction: how happy or sad an interpersonal outcome makes a person--the comparison level;

13 Satisfaction--Comparison Level (CL)
[to repeat]Social Exchange Theory offers 2 standards of comparison: relative satisfaction: how happy or sad an interpersonal outcome makes a person--the comparison level; Satisfaction depends on expectation: if you expect a +8, the +6 is below (sad) the CL and +10 is above (happy);

14 CL So, CL is the threshold, above it you are happy, below it you are disappointed; Our CL is determined by past history--what we have experienced before and has influenced our expectations; A second standard by which we evaluate the outcomes we receive, the comparison level of alternatives (Clalt);

15 CLalt Clalt is anchored by the best payoffs available outside the current relationship; Put another way, Clalt could be thought of as the worst outcome you will put up with and still stay in a relationship; As more attractive alternatives exist outside the relationship or a current outcomes slides below the Clalt , relational instability increases;

16 CL and CLalt Whether or not a person is willing to become vulnerable by self-disclosing depends on whether the outcomes in the current relationship are above or below the CL (expectations) and Clalt; Ideally, Outcome > Clalt > CL

17 Critique What are some of the critiques or problems with the theory?
You list them, please (pp ).

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