Posts filed under ‘Socio-Psychological tradition’

Communication Accommodation Theory Class Notes

“When two people from different ethnic or cultural groups interact, they tend to accomodate each other in the way they speak in order to gain the other’s approval.” – Em Griffin

Communication Accommodation Strategies

Covergence – adjustment of speech patterns to match each other and the surrounding environment

Involves delivery and content of a message

Environmental factors such as music also influence accommodation

Divergence – emphasizing the differences in communication between individuals

Maintenance (underaccommodation) – no adjustment is made in speech patterns

Overaccommodation – “talking down” to another person by raising voice, simplifying message

Motivations for convergence and divergence

Main motivation for divergence: desire for approval

Social Identity Theory

  • We often communicate not as individuals but as representatives of groups that define us.
  • Communication may be used to reinforce and defend ties to reference groups.
  • Divergence is the result if communicators feel the need for distinctiveness.
  • Initial orientation – the predisposition a person has toward focusing on either individual identity or group identity.

Five factors impact the perception of a conversation as an intergroup encournter.

  1. Collective cultural context
  2. Distressing history of interaction
  3. Stereotypes
  4. Norms or expectations for treatment
  5. High group solidarity and high group dependence

Recipient Evaluation of Convergence and Divergence

Giles and his colleagues beleive that listerners regard covergence as positive and divergence as negative

Covergent speakers are evaluated as more competent, attractive, warm and cooperative

Divergent communicators are seen as insulting, impolite, and hostile.

What ultimately important is how the communicator is perceived

Objective versus subjective accomdation

  • A disconnect may exist between what is actually happening and what a listener perceives is happening
  • Speakers who converge may also misperceive the other’s style

Attribution theory

  • Heider and Kelley suggest that we attribute an internal disposition to the behavior we see another enact
  • Listeners’ evaluation is based on ability, constraints, and effort

Our default assumption: “people who do things like that are like that.”

Stereotypes and Communication Accommodation

We place people into groups based on how we perceive them.

These stereotypes affect the accommodation strategies we use.

Example: intergenerational communication

Counteracting stereotypes:

  • We need to recognize people as individuals, not just part of a group
  • We must take time to understand how other groups communicate


Scientific Theory Criteria

Explanation of Data Yes
Prediction of Future Events Yes
Relative Simplicity Not Really
Testable Hypothesis Yes
Practical Utility Yes

December 3, 2010 at 6:02 pm Leave a comment

Face Negotiation Theory Application Log

Saving face is a priority for me, especially in my relationship with my boyfriend. I want him to think I’m drama-free and happy all the time. Unfortunately, that’s impossible.

Last night Nathan and I got in a squabble. I hate being in a bad mood around him. I’ve been very frustrated with some circumstances, and I don’t want to bother him with it all. So, instead of addressing it, I ignore it. My conflict management style of choice is avoiding. Last night whenever Nate asked me what was wrong, I told him, “I’m fine.” It has become a reflex.

Nate’s conflict management style is integrating. He makes me tell him what’s up, or to at least communicate something to him. After he’s exposed the problem, it’s easier for me to work through the conflict. I just want to avoid conflict as long as I can. He doesn’t want me to save face to the point of avoiding. (And honestly, I’m grateful for it.)

November 17, 2010 at 6:43 pm Leave a comment

Face Negotiation Theory Class Notes

Facework in my life: I recently got into a squabble with my boyfriend Nate. I was having a bad day, but I didn’t want him to have to hear about it — I hate whining — so I tried to keep it from him. He doesn’t like that. I tried to save face by not letting on that I was upset. I told him that I’m fine, and put a fake smile on my face. He intermittently asked me if I was alright because I was acting strange. I handled the conflict by avoiding it and becoming passive aggressive; he managed the conflict through integrating. He made me address it.

Face – projected image of oneself in a relational situation

Facework – messages that help maintain or restore public image

Self-construal – The degree to which people see themselves as autonomous from, or connected to, others.

Individualism and Face

  • I and You
  • Low-context
  • Competitive
  • Face-saving
  • Independent
  • Diversity
  • Democracy
  • Capitalism

Collectivism and Face

  • Mutual facework
  • Face giving
  • Homogeneous
  • Autocratic
  • High-context
  • Interdependent
  • Self-construal
  • Cooperative
  • Third party mediation

November 17, 2010 at 4:24 am Leave a comment

Cultivation Theory Application Log

According to George Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory, the amount of violence people view on television affects their views of reality. People who watch a lot of television tend to view the world as a violent place more so than people who watch little TV.

My mom worked at a television stations for sixteen years and is now the public information officer for the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation. Both jobs have her watching the news daily. When I told my mom that I wanted to intern in Iraq last summer, of course her initial reaction was no. To her, Iraq meant dangerous people, men with guns, bombs, terrorism, al-Qaida, etc. Her view of Iraq was cultivated by the news. In journalism, the catchphrase is “if it bleeds, it leads.” No news station is going to cover the everyday life in northern Iraq.

It took me going to Iraq and returning home safely for my mom’s perception of Iraq to change. And even though it has, even though I have told her only good stories about my time there, she won’t let me return because of stories told on the news.

November 12, 2010 at 6:42 pm Leave a comment

Spiral of Silence Class Notes

of Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann

Spiral of Silence is the increasing pressure people feel to conceal their opinions when they think they are in the minority

It explains the growth and spread of public opinion

Conformity research

Swarthmore psychologist Solomon Asch:





Which one would you pick?

Quasi-statistical organ

A sixth sense that tallies up info about what society in general is thinking and feeling

Noelle-Neumann recommends two questions to get at the barometric readings inside people’s heads:

  1. Present climate: regardless of your personal opinion, do you think most people?
  2. Future forecast: will more or fewer people think this way a year from now?

Fear of Isolation

The fear of isolation is teh centrifugal force that accelerates teh spiral of silence

Connects with marginalization

Powerful way to eliminate competitions

Mass media

Media accelerates the muting of the minority

The media in general at TV in particular not only tell us what to think about but also privde the sanctions view of what everyone else is thinking

Pluralistic ignorance

People’s mistaken idea that everyone thinks the way they do


Train/plain: question about conversation with with a stranger while traveling, using to determine whether people are willing to speak out in support of their viewpoint.


Hardcore non-conformists: people who have already been rejected for their beliefs and have nothing to lose by speaking out.

Avant-garde: intellectuals, artists, and reformers in the isolated minority who speak out because theya re convinced they are ahead of the times

Noelle-Neumann regards the hardcore and avant-garde minorities as the only hope for future swings in public sentiment

“The chance to change or mold public opinion is reserved to those who are not afraid of being isolated. By saying and doing the unpopular, by shocking, they can carry their ideas to supremacy.” – Noelle-Neumann

Critique: flaws in the spiral

ASsuming that fear of isolation is the cause of people’s silence; Noelle-Neumann seldom questioned whether individuals who remain silent feel it more than those who speak out

Relying on the hypothetical train/plain test to measure willingness to speak out; the artificial setting may produce artificial answers

Focusing on national climate rather than reference group opinion

“Strangers in anonymous public.” Critics say that the apparent mood of hte nation exerts less pressure than do teha ttidues of family, friends and other reference groups.

November 11, 2010 at 11:45 pm Leave a comment

Agenda-Setting Theory Class Notes

Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw

“The most important effect of mass communication [is] its ability to mentally order and organize our world for us. In short, the mass media may not be successful in telling us what to think, but they are stunningly successful in telling us what to think about.”
-Shaw & McCombs, 1977

Agenda Setting Theory is an objective and socio-psychological tradition.

Definition: The mass media has the ability to transfer the salience, or importance, of issues on their news agenda to the public agenda.

The mass media set the agenda for public opinion by highlighting certain issues.

Media concentration on a few issues and subjects leads the public to perceive those issues as more important than other issues.

Media Agenda:

The pattern of news coverage across major print and broadcast media as measured by the ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­promience and length of stories.

Public Agenda:

The most important ________ as measured by public opinion ___________.


The more attention a story receives, the higher the assumed importance.

Agenda-setting is believed to occur because the press must be selective in reporting the news.

News outlets act as gatekeepers of information though the stories they decide to run and which to ignore.

Ex. Coverage of ‘International Qur’an Burning Day’


The selection of a restricted number of thematically related attributes for inclusion on the media agenda when a particular object or issue of discourse

Index of Curiosity:

A measure of the extent to which individuals’ need for orientation motivates them to let the media shape their views.

­­­Relevance: If a story is relevant to a viewer it will catch their attention.

Uncertainty: If a viewer doesn’t know much about a subject, that story will catch their attention.

Media Malady Effect:

When ­­­­­­­negative economic headlines and stories depress consumer’s outlook and economic indicators.


The theory is criticized setting significant power onto broadcast journalism and print journalism when this is not always the case.

Agenda setting is a ­­function of mass media and not a theory.

Framing was not originally a part of McCombs & Shaw’s theory.


The terms “media gatekeeper” and “framing” have more accurately described the salience of messages and emphasize some issues more than other that the media take part in.


November 10, 2010 at 10:02 pm Leave a comment

Functional Perspective on Group Decision Making Class Notes

Four Functions of Effective Decision Making

  1. Problem analysis
  2. Goal setting
  3. Identification of Alternatives
  4. Evaluation of Consequences

Not necessarily linear

BIG ASSUMPTION: Rational decision-making is superior. (i.e. giving IWU $50,000 for a football team would make them produce it immediately, and not wait to go through the four steps.)

October 20, 2010 at 1:29 am Leave a comment

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