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Ch. 8: Uncertainty Reduction Theory
Terms in this set (23)
Who developed Uncertainty Reduction Theory?
Berger & Calbrese (1975)
What does Uncertainty Reduction Theory explain?
-It explains how we use communication (both verbal and nonverbal) as a tool to find out information about others in order to feel comfortable in our daily interactions.
-We want to anticipate or predict what others do or say in order to understand our interactions with them.
-Prediction is the ability to foresee our (and others') behavior
-Explanation is the ability to understand these behaviors
-Uncertainty occurs when the number of potential different behaviors is high and there is not enough information to determine how people act/react in a give n situation so anything could happen.
What are the two types of Uncertainty?
-Cognitive: uncertainty associated with beliefs and attitudes that we (and others) hold.
-Behavioral: the level of predictability that we have for potential behaviors in a given situation.
What are the processes associated with Uncertainty Reduction?
-Proactive Processes: the attempts we make to reduce uncertainty before we engage ourselves in a communication episode
-Retroactive Processes: trying to make sense out of episodes that we have already occurred (retrospective analysis of a situation)
What are the 7 concepts relating to Uncertainty?
1. Verbal output (what is said)
2. Nonverbal warmth (how we respond physically to a person like smiling or hugging)
3. Information seeking (how we collect info)
4. Self-disclosure (how much personal info we reveal to another)
5. Reciprocity of disclosure (how much info we reveal in response to the self-disclosure of someone)
6. Similarity (how alike we perceive ourselves to be to someone)
7. Liking (affinity towards the other person)
What are the assumptions of Uncertainty Reduction Theory?
-Uncertainty happens in interpersonal situations due to differing expectations
-Uncertainty is stressful and uses a lot of our cognitive energy
-People meeting for the first time both want to reduce uncertainty and increase predictability
Interpersonal relationships go through a three step developmental phase with entry phase, personal phase, & exit phase. They differ in order depending on participants.
-The only way to reduce uncertainty is to obtain information through verbal/nonverbal interaction
-The amount and type of information we collect changes over time as our interpersonal relationships change
-Axioms (covering laws that are generalizable) help us predict what will happen during the uncertainty reduction process
As the amount of Verbal communication increases, the level of uncertainty experienced by each participant decreases
As nonverbal warmth increases, uncertainty decreases (which promotes more nonverbal warmth)
High levels of uncertainty cause increases in information seeking behavior (and vice-versa)
High levels of uncertainty decrease the level of intimacy in a relationship (and vice-versa)
*long-lasting relationships tend to create some uncertainty so they don't feel stagnant
High levels of uncertainty produce high levels of reciprocity (and vice versa)
Similarities between people decrease uncertainty and dissimilarities increase uncertainty
Increases in uncertainty produce decreases in how much you like the other person (and vice versa)
How many different theoretical statements can be created which explain the uncertainty reduction process?
21. However, the Uncertainty Reduction Theory has a high heuristic value and as a result, an 8th axiom was added & 9th axiom was proposed.
Uncertainty is negatively related to interaction with social networks
Axiom 9 (proposed)
As individuals reduce uncertainty in an initial encounter, they experience more satisfaction from the interaction than if the uncertainty remained at a high level.
Antecedents to Uncertainty Reduction Theory (prior conditions)
-Incentive Value: motivation to reduce uncertainty will increase if one participant has the potential to reward the other.
-Deviation from Expectations: expected behavior reduces the desire to alleviate uncertainty, while unexpected behavior increases it.
-Anticipation for future interactions: greater likelihood of future interactions increases the desire to reduce uncertainty in an initial interaction.
Strategies for Reducing Uncertainty
-Passive strategies: involve observation of reactions to others (reactivity) or when inhibitions are lowered (dishibition)
-Active strategies: making an effort to reduce uncertainty without actually interacting with a person directly.
- Interactive strategies: interacting with the person face-to-face
URT & Existing Relationships
If a relationships is established and has little to no uncertainty they are sometimes viewed as "boring," while high uncertainty in realtionships often cause stress between partners and speculation about where the relationship is headed (relational uncertainty)
Critique of URT
-Some researchers think the theory doesn't take the central goals like maximizing the outcome of communication into account.
-Other researchers also question the validity of some of the axioms because they don't consider motivation of the individual (high uncertainty leads to high info seeking-- but what if the individual is not motivated to seek info?)
Heuristic Value of URT
High heuristic value; has generated a lot of research and has also applied to different communication contexts (interpersonal, group, intercultural)
Parsimony of URT
The theory uses Axioms and Theories to explain the concept of the theory logically
URT Test of Time
After 30 years, the theory is still being used by researchers.
THIS SET IS OFTEN IN FOLDERS WITH...
Ch. 7: Expectancy Violations Theory
Ch. 9: Social Penetration Theory
Ch. 11: Social Exchange Theory
Ch. 6: Cognitive Dissonance
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