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Application Logs (9th Edition)

From the Instructors Manual, plus additional samples


Launching Your Study (Chapter 1)

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Talk About Theory (Chapter 2)

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Weighing the Words (Chapter 3)

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Mapping the Territory (Chapter 4)

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Interpersonal Communication: Interpersonal Messages

Symbolic Interactionism (Chapter 5)

The theatre is a world where you really do step into someone else's shoes. You examine how the character views herself and how she is viewed by others. My theatre professor suggests some questions for studying a character--What do other people say about my character? How do other people react to my character? These questions help examine how the character is viewed by others and, thus, create the "looking-glass self." To act the character you need to understand her "me" (the "looking-glass self"). This understanding of the character should allow the "I" to come naturally. The "I" is the spontaneous self, the source of motivation. It defies study, as when it is closely examined, it disappears.


A ring. A class ring. A guy's class ring. In high school it was the ultimate sign of status, whether dangling from a chain or wrapped with a quarter inch of yarn. Without ever speaking a word, a girl could tell everybody that she was loved (and trusted with expensive jewelry), that she had a protector (and how big that protector was, based, of course, on ring size—the bigger the better), the guy's status (preferably senior), and his favorite sport (preferably football). Yes, if you had the (right) class ring, you were really somebody.

I can vividly picture an example of how others reactions to me made me take more of the looking glass self on, often to the exclusion of the true "I." One day at track we were in the weight room and as I weighed myself, the girl behind me said in apparent disbelief, "You weigh 145 lbs?!" For a moment I verged on mortification, though I was athletic, tall and lean. Through her eyes I saw myself as huge and cumbersome. Moments after she caught herself and added in our track terminology, "but that's okay because you're butch—that makes you good." In trying to find coherence between the "I" that I was, comfortable and satisfied with and these comments. I allowed myself to become a "butch" which for us meant super-strong athletic girl. But in the process, as I shrank into accepting myself as what others saw of me, I lost part of myself that isn't reflected in their reactions. The past few years I have been salvaging my "girlie" side—I have been trying to uncover the "I" that has been buried under what other people perceive me as.

Since being at school, I have begun to see the dramatic importance of surrounding myself with people who enjoy or bring out in me the thigs I love to do and be.

An example of being a looking glass to others: When my little sister was about five or six years old, she would still act like a baby because that was the way I treated her. After my mom figured out the cause and approached me about it, I began treating her more like an equal; she quickly changed her behavior and began acting her age, and even a little older.

Coordinated Management of Meaning (CCM) (Chapter 6)


I stumbled into a conversation taking place between three of my girlfriends and one of our mutual guy friends, Marty. They were attempting to define the word "sexy" as a combination of a person's attractiveness and unattainability. Their speech acts were coherent because they were shaped by the episode of defining a word over dinner. The relationship between them, their self-identities, and their culture helped them to be talking about the same thing and understanding each other. The relationship between them is close and open, and not strained by any romantic interest. Each of the four has good self-esteem and receives assurance of their attractiveness from other friends. Thus, the conversants were less likely to be driven to "prove" anyone sexy. Finally, our Christian college culture shaped what was said. The word "sexy" was stripped of its emotional charge and defined as the more quantifiable "attractive and unattainable." This made the word safe to talk about, where it might otherwise have been too carnal for Christian discussion.

When we arranged ourselves along the objective-subjective spectrum, I was one of the most objective people in the class. I like theories with a strong scientific background. I am also wary of theories that might undercut the ideas of objective truth and metanarratives. However, despite these things, I like CMM. Why does an objectivist like me have some sympathy for this socio-cultural and phenomenological theory? CMM makes many observations about life and communication that ring true, and by focusing heavily on action it doesn't launch a wanton assault on objective truth.

Coordinated Management of Meaning states that peoples' stories lived may mesh while their stories told may not. In other words, coordination without coherence can occur, in that individuals can coordinate effectively without a mutual understanding. I have seen this in my own life, especially during my days in high school when my core group of friends consisted of a gay atheist, a non-practicing Jewish girl, and a devout Jewish girl. Colin, Stephanie, Aliza and I (a Christian) were all committed to the same moral principles of abstaining from drinking, drugs, and sex, but our reasons for holding to these principles were extremely different. Thus, after reading this theory it has become obvious to me that we were more interested in coordination and not on forcing our religious beliefs upon one another for the sake of coherence.

Escher's Bond of Union comes alive as I put in my face and the face of a friend of mine. First, our communication formed our relationship and who we were together. When together we had our own "language" that kept us from being real with one another and created at times a fake social environment. The manner in which we communicated took the form of a win/lose situation and I normally took the position of the one who lost. Our process of communicating often entailed me figuring out what would make my friend happy and then deciding to do it that way. Secondly, our nonverbal language spoke volumes when we didn't talk to one another. I could tell if she was upset with me and this created a tense environment in which we lived and operated. The environment that we made together wasn't healthy for the majority of our relationship. By having an argument and not resolving conflict, we created a reality that I didn't want to be in. We truly did create our own social reality.

Expectancy Violations Theory (Chapter 7)

My freshman year of college I expected everyone to like me. On the second day of class I walked into my suitemate's room, gave her a warm greeting, sat close to her, smiled, browsed through her room acknowledging our similar tastes in music and then left. My suitemate was NOT expecting someone like myself to barge in. She had been sitting in her room in a melancholy state which, she would admit, is her usual demeanor, when I entered into her life with a bang. She admitted to me that her first impression of me was "snoopy." Yet she will also say that the valence was positive. She saw in me something that was positive that had high reward potential--she called it my "spunk." With positive valence, our friendship has grown immensely. I violated her expectations for a suitemate and became her best friend.

At the end of last year my roommate was hanging our with a bunch of our friends late at night and one of the guys started playing with her hair and continued to do so for the rest of the night. This unexpected violation of her personal distance surprised her, but became a very pleasant experience. She was forced then to reevaluate their relationship as friends. Even if a romantic relationship did not evolve, this violation brought them closer together as friends and gave greater definition to their relationship.

I never will forget how rejected I felt when I ran up to my former high school mate and gave her a hug. You see, we weren't good friends, but she went to my high school and I thought that because I decided to attend Wheaton College, that she would welcome me.

Our all Black high school was really small with only 100 students. So when I got accepted to Wheaton and was told that a former student of my high school attended Wheaton, I was thrilled. I assumed that because there were few Blacks on campus, my former school mate would greet me with warmth. It is an unspoken rule that when Blacks are few in number that they stick together, support one another, and edify one another--it's part of our culture's history. So when I saw this girl on campus that attended my high school, I quickly greeted her with a hug, but she didn't hug me back--just stood there. I felt so stupid and rejected.

Later in the year, I learned that she isn't a "touchy" person and rarely displays open affection for others, except for those people whom she knows really well. So, I learned how to adjust to her views on physical touch. I smile when I see her, but I don't greet her with hugs unless she initiates them. Surprisingly, she sometimes does, but these occasions are few. I guess once she was more comfortable with me and had many occasions to evaluate me, she feels more at ease.

Last week I had lunch with a friend of mine who I met last year. I had seen him around a lot during the first week of school, and one day both our lunch appointments were no-shows, so we decided to eat together. After lunch we walked out of our dining hall and he walked me all the way to my dorm. He proceeded to hold the door open for me and said good-bye very courteously. In hindsight, I can see how EVT was in play here.

Obviously, my friend violated my expectations because I never expected him to walk me all the way to my dorm. Considering that our dorms are in complete opposite directions, I would have never predicted that my friend would walk me out of his way to get me back; after all, our relationship is solely a friendship, and it isn't a "norm" here for guys to walk girls back to their dorm after a meal together. The violation valence definitely weighed in positive with me, and thus my friend's action was a good thing. Because the violation was positive, the reward valence was somewhat less significant in how I viewed the violation. I will comment, however, that this good-looking violator, who is universally liked on campus, offers me a lot of reward potential because of his status. So the question I glad my lunch date was a no show last week? But of course!

I believe that people who don't really know me that well think of me as a nice girl who would not be fond of sarcasm or teasing. Take for instance my relationship with my boyfriend's mother. We know each other relatively well, but since they are from North Carolina and only make a few visits to Wheaton a year, our relationship is not deep. I would say that even though we have a relatively shallow relationship, it is one that is positive. A couple of visits ago, my boyfriend's car needed an oil change, and his mother was trying to find a garage where his car could be serviced. I responded in a serious manner and stated that, "I am very good with cars and could change the oil for him", which is a complete lie. His mother totally believed me, but then I was quick to tell her I was just teasing. My unexpected teasing comment violated her expectations of me as a nice, non-teasing girl. Now I can tease with Mrs. Koontz and we laugh together. Our relationship has become more informal and I am more comfortable around her. In the future if I perceive an initially positive relationship with someone, I will not hesitate to do something that might violate his or her expectations of me.

Interpersonal Communication: Relationship Development

Social Penetration Theory (Chapter 8)

I have always been cautious about what I tell people about myself. I never want to reveal something that I might later regret. But I do like to have close relationships. The problem is, I find it takes a long time for me to form that closeness.

When I was in sixth grade I moved to a new school. I didn't begin to feel like people really knew me until my junior year in high school. I really enjoyed those last two years of high school, but maybe if I had been a little less cautious about telling people about myself earlier, I could have had more fun all throughout junior and senior high. Maybe I should go out on a limb a little more; I may find that people are willing to let me come closer to them as a result.

The symbol of an onion is a great representation of all the aspects of a person. I believe that it can help in committing to someone in marriage if I understand that people are like onions. It may sounds trite, but it is so important to not only have depth with a person but also breadth--which unfortunately is sometimes forgotten on our campus.

My parents have always been a bit skeptical of "campus marriage" as they call it--meeting someone in college and marrying them before you even finish school. But now that I'm in college I'm beginning to understand my parents' perspective on this issue whereas I used to think they just didn't understand "love at first sight." I know several couples that have graduated within the last year and gotten married and they are struggling in their marriages because their spouses have supposedly "changed so much" since college. Have they really changed or are my friends just slicing through the different layers and cutting out wedges that they didn't see before?

Growing up as an Air Force brat, I've had numerous opportunities to put the theory of social penetration to work. I've had to leave my friends behind and make all new ones more times than I care to count, and starting anew never seems to get any easier. The immediate thought of many people is that after so many moves, I would be a pro at making new friends. Everything gets easier with repetition--including self-disclosure and vulnerability, right? Well, at least in my case, the answer is a resounding no.

Three weeks before I was to start my junior year of high school at Beavercreek High School in Beavercreek, OH, my parents informed me that we were moving to FL. That move was by far the most difficult for me. First of all, it was completely unexpected. More important, however, was where it came in the sequence of my life. I knew that in two short years, I would again have to uproot and start over. I had no intention of going to college in Florida, I knew I would almost certainly be going to a school where I knew no one. It was then that I decided I was not going to allow myself to become close to anyone. My relationships would all be characterized as "breadth without depth." While I couldn't express it in such terms, I knew that with self-disclosure comes vulnerability. Vulnerability can lead to attachment and emotional dependence and that equals painful goodbyes. How much easier would it be to keep all my relationships on a purely superficial level?

Despite my "good" intentions, I was unable to maintain my aloofness. I met a girl, Shaun. She was a senior who had moved to Florida the year before--her junior year of high school. This commonality led to numerous reciprocal conversations about our moving experiences, which led to more and more self-disclosures. Though it wasn't immediate, I soon found myself in a close relationship.

When I first met Natalie, I decided that I wanted to be good friends with her. Looking at the comparison level of alternatives, I evaluated her against another good friends and saw more positive things in Natalie. Natalie is much more relaxed, has a better sense of humor, and is smarter. While at the same time I didn't realize that I was looking at the comparison level, I look back now and see that is exactly what I was doing. As our relationship has progressed, my comparison level has also risen. With normal friends, I do not expect a call on a weekly basis. But, with Natalie being my closest friend, I expect to talk to her at least once a week and am disappointed if I do not. Even so, when I speak or talk to her I am always pleasantly surprised and have a positive outcome. Our relationship is very important to both of us because we have reached a very deep depth of penetration. There is very little Natalie does not know about me and very little I do not know about her.

Uncertainty Reduction Theory (Chapter 9)

I hate meeting new people. In fact, I pride myself on having very bad first impressions of all my dearest friends. First meetings always overwhelm me, with their stilted conversation and suspicious feelings on both sides. This theory helped me to formulate a new plan for the next time I meet a person. I can establish common ground as quickly as possible. The faster we find similarities, the more nonverbal warmth, verbal communication, self-disclosure, and liking will increase. If I can get over having bad first impressions, I may be on my way to starting better friendships.

I tend to use a "passive strategy," observing others from a distance before approaching them with an "active strategy" for gaining information. However, with the new director of Drama Workout (Dave), I have a lot of interest at stake. I have spent the largest part of my time at Wheaton investing in the theater. I began an interactive strategy right away with Dave, going into his office, introducing myself and some of my "story" as a senior—being "transparent" in order to increase reciprocity from Dave.

Dave hid a serious question in a joke by "hedging" as Berger calls it. Right away, loudly and inappropriately he said, "So! Are you disappointed that I'm not Mark Lewis?" It was so out of place to say that we both laughed which gave me the change to answer it or treat it as a joke.

Laughing relaxed us and I did answer the question. I liked his straight-forwardness. I am more like that with my friends. It was the first of a series of great conversations. I realized that Dave was open and thick-skinned and opinionated which made me more comfortable to ask my hard questions, which I am known for. I knew that my personality would not be a threat to him, my uncertainty of potential offense was reduced and our intimacy and liking went up.

This theory actually makes me think of this guy named Bob that I like. I've had a crush on him for quite some time. The problem is that I don't think he is interested. So, I've used all three information-seeking methods to try to limit my uncertainty about Bob. I observe him when he least expects it. I weasel information from a friend who knows him very well, and, on the off chance that he decides to talk to me, I ask him questions about himself. So, I've successfully reduced uncertainty about Bob and, in the process, my crush has grown stronger. This still leaves me with the problem of my unrequited "love". But, the uncertainty reduction theory has provided me with a solution. I need to merely share about myself because "to know her is to love her!" Perhaps I should send anonymous notes to Bob through the campus mail. "FYI: Erin is a communications major who loves fun, the beach, swimming, her little sister, and cookies." I wonder what Berger would say about that?

After developing a friendship with Heather for four months, we decided to start dating. During that time, I had the opportunity to meet her family. When I first met her father, axiom #1 presented itself in our conversation as the conversation seemed to be fragmented. We talked about random subjects because neither one of us had even a small working knowledge of who the other person was or how he thought. Axion #2 presented itself as we both frequently looked away to avoid the tension and discomfort of staring into each other's eyes. Her father and I both sought information about the other as we tried to figure out who the other person was and make some familiar connections. The conversation revolved around ambiguous topics with low self-disclosure. Now that I am more familiar with her father, I no longer need to be so information seeking because I no longer have so much uncertainty. We have grown to have more certainty in who the other person is, thus providing me with more certainty in my behavioral and cognitive questions.

Social Information Processing Theory (Chapter 10)

I've definitely seen Walther's hyperpersonal "selective self-presentation" at work in my relationship with my boyfriend.  In the beginning stages of our relationship, our self-disclosure was most often via instant messaging for the very reason that Walther claimed --"people who meet online have an opportunity to make and sustain an overwhelmingly positive impression."  IM allowed us to carefully process and edit what were going to say before we committed to saying it by pushing "send."  I would often type on the instant message screen, read it through, delete it and start over if there was something that I said in a way that might leak information that I wasn't yet ready to disclose.

I have found that once you move beyond the slower pace of on-line interaction and get used to the pace of face-to-face interaction, it's hard to go back.  For example after we became comfortable with each other face-to-face, our CMC became almost nonexistent.  When we are living in separate states, the different pace of on-line communication becomes frustrating.

Interpersonal Communication: Relationship Maintenance

Relational Dialectics (Chapter 11)


In discussing the ways in which couples deal with their various conflicting needs, Baxter overlooked one that has come into play (dare I say) constantly in my romances. I will name it inverse response cyclical alteration (Irca). Irca means that each partner switches from one pole to the other, and their position is inversely correlated to the direction that the other is pulling at that moment. This sounds like it would create unbearable tension, but actually has the effect of balancing out both extremes. When I am being predictable, my boyfriend will do something completely unexpected. Then, when I'm acting completely out of character, he will slow me down with his desire for predictability. And when all I want is too be alone, his desire for interdependence will save us from over-indulgent self-destruction. So I will likely respond with my own surge of independence; but as I pull away, my boyfriend will suddenly seem to take every opportunity for connection. The Irca seems to keep a relationship balanced, ever changing, yet progressing at a slow and steady pace.

I think this theory can best be summarized in the popular statement made by many women at some point in their relationships. This statement is, "Leave me alone. I don't want to talk to you right now. Just go away." This statement, at least whenever I make it, really has so much riding behind it. I want my boyfriend to stop being a pest about whatever he is bothering me about, but I also want him to stay and comfort me because I am mad or sad about something. This internal pull is an example of the connectedness separateness that goes on within a relationship.

My boyfriend and I experience contradictory pulls, which are reflected in the language that we use. There is tension between connectedness and separateness. Connectedness, especially for him, is fairly related to the future of our relationship. We like to think that we may get married someday and think about what that would be like. Occasionally, one of us will say something like, "our children will have to be taught what a record player is." Then, the other person will recoil and say, "well, you can tell your children that." We use a spiraling alteration to maintain a paradox to ensure that our connectedness/separateness desires are met.

My boyfriend is on the swim team, and I know most of the team well. The exceptions to this are the new freshmen, who apparently only know me as "the girlfriend." When Tyler told me that that is how they know who I am, I was bothered by it, and it surprised me that it irritated me. I have since realized that I want to have my own identity ourside of my relationship with Tyler, which is why I do not like the idea of being "the girlfriend." I obviously want to be connected to him, otherwise we would not be dating, but I also want my own separate, independent identity. So there is a working example of Internal Dialectics in play.

Communication Privacy Management Theory (Chapter 12)


My girlfriend Rissa and I share many intimate details with each other. I remember this one occasion when she was telling me something that was super secretive and super private. Before she told me, she specified for about ten minutes that I could not tell anyone, not my best friend Ryan, not my parents, no one. I had to swear on my life that I would not let this piece of information get out. After all this hassle, she finally told me. Communication Privacy Management theory explains Rissa and my behavior. She felt that she owned this piece of information. It was hers to share or hers not to share. Even after she told me, she still wanted to have the power and control to do with it how she wanted to. When she decided to tell me this information, she was bringing me into her circle, and we were now co-owners of the information. When she specified that I couldn’t tell anyone, she was setting privacy boundaries and we were negotiating the privacy of the information that both of us now know. But no matter how carefully you set up the boundaries, it doesn’t mean the other person will follow through on your wishes.

The Interactional View (Chapter 13)

My family could be a perfect model for this theory. As of a year ago, my father has developed a mental disorder that has truly affected every member of our family, not just him. He is the one with the "problem", however, the rest of the family perpetuated this problem until we learned to reframe the situation. My mother was truly the "enabler" of the family, always providing the back door out for my dad. My brothers and I often had fiery tempers whenever certain subjects pertaining to his disorder would arise. Our resistance to even broach the topic kept everything nicely swept under the rug. It wasnt until half of my family sought counseling that we had the nerve to approach my dad and exercise "tough love" by no longer allowing his disorder to rule our lives. As the book said, "I can change myself. Others I can only love." My response to my father changed when I realized that I could not make him well, I could only place my love for him in a different picture frame. It may not be a pretty picture frame, but its functional, and contains my love for him in a way that no other picture frame does.

I'm really pumped on the Interactional View. What really makes me wide-eyed is how Watzlawick breaks down the family relationships into symmetrical and complimentary. It brings to mind a statement my father would often say: "You and your mother argue and have heated arguments because you are so similar." I usually dismissed this idea as baloney. "What, Mom and I similar? Yeah, right--look how often we disagree!" was my repeated response. Looking back through the eyes of Watzalwick, Dad was right. We both were shooting out one-up messgaes forming an ongoing symmetrical interaction that wasn't very comfortable.

I learned the lesson of reframing my junior year of High School. Ross, my next-door neighbor and peer, was a nice guy, but seemed like such a dork. It wasn't until my mother pulled me aside and told me that I was going to regret my inability to tolerate him and the termination of the friendship for the rest of my life that I finally knew there was a problem. After an exasperating session of, "but what can I do? He's just annoying!", my mother and I came up with a solution. I had to decide to learn to "appreciate his Ross-ness". He was Ross and he wasn't going to change and didn't need. Therefore, all I had to do was approach my perception of him in a different light. When I was able to step back and see the annoying things as something "Ross-ish" to appreciate, I rejected my old frame of Ross and accepted a new frame. Ross never changed, but how I framed him did.

One of my friends is an only child and his family system had a completely different set of rules that I wasn't used to. For one thing, his parents played the obligation game frequently. He was obligated to go visit friends or family, to stay home and do homework, and to do what he was told. In turn, he would blatantly lie to them because there was no system in place to check up on him to see if he was lying or not. It was as if his parents established the house games, and he decided to try and find how many ways he could break the established pattern without his parents being able to recognize it. His parents certainly had a complementary relationship with him where they were the authority, but viewed it as normal for all parents. The reframing that needed to be done would be to have his parents see the effects of their stringent rules on their child, and for my friend to see how he perpetuates these rules by committing small rebellious acts.

Interpersonal Communication: Influence

Social Judgment Theory (Chapter 14)

Time and time again I find myself easily persuaded. So often I find myself thinking, "How did I get talked into this one?" Credit it to my flexibility, willingness to try, or naïve trust in people's motives. I always pay attention to advice given by a friend or an "expert."

The social judgement theory would say that I simply have a wide latitude of non-commitment. What that means is, I have low ego involvement in the situation. The situation is not a hill to die on, so why should I get my pride involved?

Elaboration Likelihood Model (Chapter 15)

It's the peripheral route that I want to emphasize here. For several years I've been aching to go skydiving. My parents, especially my mom, were adamantly opposed. However, two years ago my dream came true. It was near the beginning of the summer and I had Just graduated from high school. I was really working on my mom to allow me to go. I'd be turning 18 in a month, so the only thing stopping me was the okay from the parents. I tried everything--literature, brochures, movies--everything I knew about skydiving I shared with them. But no matter what I tried, the answer kept coming back "NO." Then things changed in my favor. A new employee started at the daycare where my mom worked, and she was an avid skydiver. She was 20 years old and had been jumping for several years now. And thanks to her I was able to go. My mom wouldn't listen to reason, she wouldn't read any of the literature that I brought home (the central route), but she listened to this girl she worked with (peripheral route: likeness). I have to admit that the girl at the daycare probably knew less about skydiving than I did, but because my mom liked her, and she felt it was safe, my mom decided it would be okay for me to go. (Of course, now she says I'll never get to go again, but I'm working on it.)

Cognitive Dissonance Theory (Chapter 16)

I usually like most people and I feel uncomfortable when I do not like someone or when someone does not like me.  A couple of years ago I was a lifeguard and swim instructor.  My manager was this woman named “Laura.”  Laura was rather bossy and very aloof to me.  I worked with her for eight hours a day so I did not know how to respond to how she treated me.  I wanted to tell her a couple of ungodly words sometimes and tell her what a jerk she was.  Instead I responded with kindness.  I complimented her and talked with her often.  At first I was uncomfortable because I was faking, but in the end I began to like her and I believe I liked her for the same reasons people thought they liked the experiment after they told the woman how fun it was for a dollar.  I didn’t want to feel like I was faking when I was being nice to Laura, so I changed my attitude so I could feel like I was being sincere to Laura.


A girl walked up to me once and told me that she loved theatre as much as I did.  After a brief conversation, I realized that she thought of theatre as sitting in an audience watching an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, while I thought theatre to be a group of friends working hard to put on a piece by Tennessee Williams.  The chapter and the incident both reminded me that the thoughts I associate with words are not always what others mean. 

I have always had this issue with buying shoes. I will never buy a pair of shoes and the next day tear off the tags. I need to be 100% sure of what I purchased before I can no longer return it. I will spend hours slipping the shoes on and off in the house and walking around in them. When I am not walking around the house I will be online looking to see if I can find the shoes cheaper, or a better pair for the same price. I have been known to return a pair of shoes because I did not want them, and then go and buy the same pair a few weeks down the road. I am glad to know that I am not totally crazy, but that I have a ton of postdecision dissonance. For me buying shoes is a huge decision because it costs me a good amount of money. When I finally make the decision to keep them I want to hug the first person that says, "I like your shoes."

Group and Public Communication: Group Communication

Functional Perspective on Group Decision Making (Chapter 17)

I'd like to take the theorist's opinion that prioritizing, or the developing of a logical progression of a group is essential if it is to function, and look at my summer's experience. I was the assistant director for S.I.C.M, the children's program at College Church this summer. Our group of interns struggled with accomplishing tasks, and a large part of that was due to our lack of prioritizing. In the leadership role, our director did point out positive qualities of the members but failed to acknowledge the negatives. In this case one intern was repeatedly late for all group functions, thus causing us an extra hour of time that was not originally scheduled. This soon caused tension in the group but nothing was done about it. We had many decisions to make regarding day camp, scheduling and clubs, but our failure to prioritize our choices and lack of goal setting made the summer an organizational nightmare.

Like most people, I have participated in several group decision making processes. I appreciated being able to label and recognize the four stages outlined by Hirokawa and Gouran's theory. I will use the recent example of a group decision making process that occurred in Student Government in order to illustrate the four functions. First is analysis of the problem. We needed to make a decision about what to do with the 35 unclaimed or lost bikes donated to us by Public Safety. In the past, there has been a bike sale which has provided 35 students with bike transportation at a very affordable price. The group sought to determine whether or not this was the best way to serve the most students on campus. Specifically, someone had suggested "Thunder Wheels"--a fleet of bikes available for students on-campus use at any time.

Second, we had to identify a goal. Our criteria in considering possible solutions included a project that fit within our allocated budget, high potential for a broad campus impact, large student interest, and approval by Public Safety and various administrators. With this in mind, we (function three) identified the alternatives. Our first was the status quo--a bike sale. Another was selling the bikes and using the money to purchase 10 new ones. A third alternative was fixing up the current bikes, painting them bright orange with "Thunder Wheels", and delegating a committee for long term upkeep.

After the alternatives had been evaluated to meet the criteria, they were fourthly evaluated for positive and negative characteristics. The third alternative initially looked the most promising (and the most fun). However, we spent a Saturday inventory/repairing bikes only to realize how unfeasible the alternative actually was. We had failed to consider the amount of work and expertise required to maintain so many bikes. We also realized that we had received poor advice from the paint "experts" at Ace Hardware and Home Depot. After considering the negative characteristics of alternative three, we paid closer attention to the positive characteristics of alternative two and have implemented that course of action instead.

Last night, I met with two other people in my Intro to Media class at the library to discuss our upcoming presentation on prime-time television. During the hour meeting, the three types of communication in decision-making groups occurred. As we sat down, my classmate Jean suggested that to start off, we should make a list of the goals that we wanted to accomplish in preparation for our presentation. Jean's suggestion is an example of promotive communication, which is "interaction that moves the group along the goal path by calling attention to one of the four decision-making functions (goal setting)." As we began to make our list of goals, Mike asked us if we had watched our assigned prime-time television show. I commented that I watched mine and then preceded to tell all the details to the plot, which in turn spurred Mike and Jean to talk about their program's plots. Pretty soon, we stopped making a list of goals, and became sidetracked with talking about our assigned programs. Mike's question and my response turned out to be an example of disruptive communication. It wasn't until Jean suggested that we stop talking about our programs, and get back to the task of writing out our goals, that I was aware of our deviation from the original plan of goal setting. This counteractive communication enabled us to focus once again on our task.

I think group decision making is important -- even vital, yet I am the worst at it. When I was a sophomore, I applied to be a foreign exchange student to Germany. For our final project, we, the six finalists, had to find a solution to a problem, then present it to the directors. They then selected the four who went based on this process. Judging by Hirokawa and Gouran's theory, I see why I never went to Germany. I'd like to say it's because I tend to promote different alternatives, however, I can see how my smart/sarcastic comments tend to disrupt and take away from the task of problem analysis and goal setting. I wish I had a chance to do it over -- after my big personality change, of course.

Symbolic Convergence Theory (Chapter 18)


I always wondered if the three of us were sort of sick. Whenever Jenn, Lynn and I would get together and hang out, we would always talk about the past. I don't know why, but all the funny things we had shared in the past always seemed so much more exciting than anything we were doing in the present. When one of us would start to share a common yarn, the other two would immediately pick up the fantasy and create a chain reaction of energy. We had a million fantasy themes that we would re-create through time. I always thought that we were pretty weird, but Bormann declares that we are just natural symbol users and storytellers who voice fantasies and create cohesiveness.


Before I came to school, I did an Outward-Bound type Wilderness trip with 10 other women.  I think Dickens must have gone on one of these trips because it was “The best of times and the worst of times.”  The only way I got through it was the great girls in my group. We had a blast.  We had many inside jokes, but I’m unsure if the one I have picked qualifies as a joke.  However, whenever I get together with my girls, we still look back on it and laugh. Sabrina and I had to sleep in soaking wet sleeping bags on a rainy night when it was fairly chilly outside.  It was miserable.  A truly trying experience.  However, halfway through the night when we couldn’t  sleep, we started looking for positives.  They were a little ridiculous and went something like, “well it may be raining, but at some point in time in our life, we will be dry again.”  Then the other person would say, “positive,” and go on to add to it, “we may not be able to sleep, but I think one of my socks is dry,” and then again the other person would respond, “positive.”  This attitude of finding positives in the most hopeless of situations really resonated with our group.  It made us laugh and lifted up situations.  It’s our joke and a lifestyle.

Group and Public Communication: Organizational Communication

Cultural Approach to Organizations (Chapter 19)

The Men's Glee Club is an organization which has its own culture. The substance of our culture is found in our motto: fraternitas, integritas, veritas (that is, brotherhood, integrity, and truth). This substance is played out in our rehearsals, weekly devotional times, planned social events, and informal gatherings. As suggested by the theory, many stories are told to help define the Club. Every year the director talks about how we should have our Spring Banquet somewhere closer to Wheaton instead of having it in downtown Chicago. This is a corporate story since it comes from the "management." Of course, each year we vote to have it in Chicago, since the cabinet would rather follow tradition than the director's advice. This is a collegial story because it is "the real story" of the Club. The Spring Banquet is a rite for the Glee Club--a rite of enhancement (celebration of the past year), a rite of passage (the time when next year's cabinet officially takes over), and a rite of integration (our last chance to grow closer as a group before the end of the school year).

Communicative Constitution of Organizations (Chapter 20)


I was selected to be a manager of a soccer team at my school. If it wasn’t hard enough to be a non-athlete amongst very talent athletes, I was also the only girl as it was the men’s soccer team.  In the beginning, I think my biggest challenge was not figuring out what I needed to do (after all, I’ve played soccer and I’ve managed other teams so I knew the tasks), but how would I fit in on this team. They have a particular ethos that’s unlike other teams I’ve been around. They behaved as an organization as McPhee described it. New members were trained in the team’s ethos (“work until utter exhaustion.”)  No one was allowed to phone it in, not coaches, players, or as I learned managers. Even team meetings were more like strategy sessions as coaches discussed theories and any individuals could add to the collective sensemaking.  Each person had a task and duty and while I’m not sure the load was evenly shared, they did seem to talk about it a lot and made fewer assumptions.  On a campus where soccer isn’t one of the banner sports, the team tried hard to position themselves as different from the other athletes on campus.  But, I really saw this organizing come to a head during games. Each member has to stand on the sidelines—no one is allowed to sit or disengage. Whatever happened on the field, everyone witnesses.  My first day on the sidelines, I tried to stay out of the way as I thought I wasn’t really a member of this team. Well, the other members of this organization let me have it and would not tolerate my self-selected distancing behavior. To be a member of this team means you stand on the line.  Now, I know what it means to be a member of this organization and I know what my job is.       

Critical Theory of Communication in Organizations (Chapter 21)

This theory was a bit difficult to apply to my life; I've never worked for a corporation (and I've made it somewhat of a goal never to either. But perhaps this is because I've come to view corporations as Deetz has, and also view them as needing change.)

My aunt has worked for AT&T most of her working life (she's 45). She moved rather high up the ladder and had a pretty good, high-ranking job. She was laid off a couple of months ago. As I understand it, AT&T has been gradually downsizing for a while now. For over a year, she has had no job security; she would go into work every day not knowing if this was to be the day she would "find out" that her job was no longer essential. In the meantime, much younger, inexperienced people have been promoted to new positions within her department, right before her very eyes. This just seems like a medieval king, or an evil dictatorship to me--not knowing whether the king is going to summon you in and call for your head on a platter. But you know he's a hungry king, so your end is probably coming pretty soon. How does one plan one's life with outlooks like that? I know it's made my aunt a less happy person. (Although she's more happy now that she has the prospect of teaching at a university instead. It's more her style anyway.)

O, how do these authoritarian companies command such loyalty? Corporate colonization of everyday life. They offer goodies. My aunt obviously got good telephone rates, as well as all the latest technologies AT&T had to offer. My grandpa worked for them all his life and has a nice pension now. I'm sure my aunt was looking forward to that (but those were the good old days). Everything having to do with phones in my life has always been AT&T, and since my uncle works for Sony, the same is the case—anything technological or mechanical (down to my audio tapes even), if Sony makes it, we have a Sony. It went without saying in my family.

This is not the case anymore, now that my family's eyes have been opened to what these corporations are capable of doing with one fell swoop. Maybe this disillusionment will be the case with greater society eventually, if corporate atrocities keep happening.

(I think it all started with our capitalistic form of economy . . .)

After the Deetz chapter I was quite surprised to witness several aspects of his theory enacted during the dinner conversation a few moments later. We were talking about the Women's Chorale spring banquet and one girl has had her eye on a particular guy for the past month. We were curious if she'd invited him yet. "No," she said. "I'm not sure it's worth $25. That's a lot of money to spend on a date who might not even be interested in me." My roommate offered some encouragement. "Oh, come on," she said. "It's definitely a worthy investment. It could lead to something more." Without even thinking twice about their choice of words, my friends were expanding the powerful influence of corporate thinking in everyday conversation. This business of talking in economic terms reinforces the idea that corporations like GM not only produce cars, but meanings in people as well. In simply discussing an upcoming dating situation, my friends had unknowingly adopted the lingo of big business, demonstrating the validity of Deetz' communication model. It seems that language is the medium through which reality is produced, and therefore, creating the right impression makes a big difference. In the case of the Chorale banquet, perhaps the persuasive business lingo of the dinner conversation will convince my friend to "invest" in the $25 for an enjoyable evening (and maybe even a future romantic relationship).

Giving a voice to all that are affected by an action/decision is a frightening idea. So frightening in fact that Bon Apetit (our food service) doesn't do it. "'Aaah. . . ' they say. But you do have a voice as students! There is the suggestion box and a survey each semester!" That, according to Deetz, is not a voice. I am allergic to all milk products and I don't know the ingredients of the food. I've put my comments in via their mode of communication with no observable results. I have involvement in the process, but no participation. The management still holds all the power. A real voice would be nice.

When I was growing up, from about as early as I can remember into my high school years, my father worked for a company in the oilfield. He would be gone for weeks at a time, sometimes even a month. I know that deep down he hated working those hours, but it was his job and he needed to provide economic means for our family. I remember my dad getting phone calls at dinnertime and being forced to go back to work until very early in the morning. He did not complain, because he thought he was meeting the need of being a family provider. This is illustrated in Stan Deetz's theory as "consent". Consent, in the corporate setting, involves accomplishing the interests of others in a "faulty attempt to fulfill one's own interests". My father thought he was fulfilling his interests by providing, but later he discovered that there was more he wished to accomplish as a family man than just moneymaking.

Group and Public Communication: Public Rhetoric

The Rhetoric (Chapter 22)

In my Fundamentals of Oral Communication class we were taught these exact methods in giving speeches. To fully relate this to Aristotle's tactics, I will tell of my persuasion speech. I gave a speech on eating disorders and how the media encourages eating disorders in women. In my invention or construction of my argument, I showed how statistics of eating disorders had risen from the past to now. I also showed examples of advertisements with skinny models which the youth of our day and women of our day expect themselves to look like. With these examples, I failed to show a contrast of advertisements of the past or possible advertisements of the future. I did show that through using perfect bodies in advertisements, we had glorified this part of our nature over other more important things. In my arrangement, I gave an interesting story to catch the audience's attention, then I shared that I had credibility because I had struggled with an eating disorder and so had my sister and best friend. I stated my purpose to make my audience aware of the effect of the media and to stop the glorification of perfect bodies. I did not reveal my main point at the end, rather I ended with examples of what we could do. My style contained vivid examples with the actual advertisements and stories of those who had suffered. I spoke in everyday language, but failed to create fresh metaphors. I spoke candidly, which was easier by not memorizing my speech--this contrasts with Aristotle's encouragement of memory. It's amazing that Aristotle's speech techniques are still being taught in classrooms today.

Dramatism (Chapter 23)

Burke would say that the persuasion speech on eating disorders (which I gave as an example for Aristotle's Art of Rhetoric), was an attempt for me to purge my guilt, and that I gave that speech because I felt guilty about my past actions in being involved in an eating disorder and for having a sister who was also involved in one. Since I concentrated on the media and its obsession with beauty and thinness, Burke would say I was concentrating on the scene or situation and was therefore one who believed I was a victim of outside forces. He would say I blamed society for the flaws in my behavior. He would probably label the word "obsession" as my devil term and the word "refocus" or the word "inner beauty" as my god-term. He would say that I felt guilty for not having done better, and that I needed to give this speech in order to relieve myself or at least to express my negative emotions. He would say I chose the second choice of victimization rather than self-blame.

I received a phone call yesterday from a Southwest bookseller—not to buy a book, but to work for them. Suddenly, I was pulled into a drama of cat and mouse. He (the cat) kept dropping cheese (identification) to me (the mouse). For instance, students gave him my name, he used to be a student, I'm interested in ministry—oh Billy Graham did something like this, he knows about finding a summer job, etc. Anything I said, he could identify with. I should feel guilty for not making use of my persuasion/communication skills. This job would purge me of that guilt. His purpose was clear—to recruit. He identified well with me, but I'm cynical when I know his purpose is to persuade me to do what he wants.

I'm a big fan of Bruce Springsteen (and what red-blooded American male isn't) and a lot of his songs are like that. They draw you in until you care for the guy in the song and stop just being a listener. A lot of this, in my opinion, has to do with the identification that Springsteen has with his audience. Burke said that he effective communicator can show consubstantiality by giving signs that his properties are the same as the listeners. Bruce looks, acts, talks, and dresses like a normal guy from New Jersey. I can relate to him because he could be my brother, cousin, or uncle. Burke says, "Without identification, there is no persuasion." Well, I identify with Springsteen and I believe in what he is saying and doing.

This theory brings me back to the cafeteria in sixth grade. I was sitting around my lunch table with Rachel and Jillian and Karisa. Amy wasn't there yet. All the girls started making fun of Amy. "She's such a nerd! Look at how she studies all the time!"

"Yeah, and I hate the way she clears her throat in class."

"And then she waves her hand when she wants to answer a question!"

"She practically yells, ‘Pick me! Pick me!' Then she'll jump out of her chair and start waving again!"

The insults kept rolling about poor Amy. I don't think any of us girls disliked Amy terribly, but we could unite against her. We made Amy the victim of our guilt and fear and self-doubt. In doing so, we created a tight-knit group that could identify with at least one thing: none of us liked Amy.

A few of the guys on my floor needed to, or just wanted to, identity with me some-how. I would get approached hearing a phrase such as, "Yo, wazup, dog?" or "How you be livin!" I was offended and taken back. I did not expect it. What a way to try to identify with me. How about, "Hello, what's your name?" We all have names. They thought that was my language. They wanted to convince me that they know me and all of those that are like me.

Narrative Paradigm (Chapter 24)

Over fall break, I saw the movie Quiz Show, which is about a television game show which is tailored to keep the public's interest by a scam in which certain contestants know all the answers before they get asked the questions on the air. The plot of the movie revolves around two conflicting stories: that of the game show producers, who claim that everyone's making money and no one's getting hurt; and that of the federal investigator, who says that television is presenting the public with a false sense of reality. Ultimately, the court has to decide whose story has more narrative coherence and narrative fidelity. It is a lack of coherence on the part of the game show's producers and contestants that spark the investigation in the first place. The federal investigator recognizes there is something that doesn't quite fit in their story. Although the investigator's story does not seem quite believable to people at first, he manages to convince people that his story has coherence and just as important, his story has fidelity. That is, the TV viewing public can identify with it because they are the ones being abused.

C.S. Lewis is a masterful storyteller, and the Chronicles of Narnia are no exception. I would argue that these are truly "good stories"--in the most Fisher-esque sense of the idea.

Lewis presents a very coherent set of stories. While the characters, places, and events may not be "of this world"—not the rational world we live in, they are very consistant with each other. Internally, they all interact in the world of Narnia. True, it's not the human world that we live in, but it doesn't claim to be. Lewis creates a set of rules that are uniquely Namian. His story is so consistent that it makes the fictional world seem quite plausible and realistic.

Additionally, Lewis somehow creates a great sense of narrative fidelity. While it's a fictional world, Lewis skillfully creates parallels to our common human reality. The characters relate directly to characters in my life (including myself). For instance, I can identify with doubting Susan as she grows out of her child-like faith. Yet, I long for the innocent passion of Lucy and the nobleness of Peter.

This theory seems to contradict Interpersonal Deception Theory. IDT suggests that people cannot tell when people are lying as well as they think. Humans are poor lie detectors. However, IDT's idea that strategic deception demands mental effort does coincide with Narrative Paradigm's narrative coherence and fidelity. Yet at the heart, I have a hard time allowing these two theories to coexist, as they seem to theorize opposite things. Narrative coherence and fidelity seem to rely on an intuition of whether or not characters are behaving uncharacteristically or even more simply if a story seems to ‘ring true'. IDT suggests that these are not good criteria, as we as humans are more accepting and liars can easily side step these two areas.

Last week I told a friend that we had to watch the movie Don Quixote Man from La Mancha because it is such a great movie. After reading Fisher's theory, I would like to set out on my own quest to see whether Fischer would consider this story to be what he would call a "good" narrative or if we are all just adopting a "bad" tale.

Narrative coherence is the first criteria. Don Quixote acts consistently from the beginning until the end. He acts as an insane individual who wants to restore knight-errantry and chivalrous values back to the world. All of his actions seem to have coherence because they follow the code of knighthood. His character at times doesn't "hang together" in the same fashion that his actions do. However, this can establish coherence because it reinforced his insane nature and his continual pursuit of his goals. It also points out the reliability in his unpredictable nature.

Narrative fidelity refers to whether or not the story "rings true" to the hearer. I believe that the character of Don Quixote does strike a responsive chord with the majority of listeners. Don Quixote longs for a sense of beauty and purpose. He wants to reinstate chivalrous knighthood to the world. He sticks with these beliefs and feelings until his death. These values of persistence, good will towards others, and acting morally right are all values that hearers can relate to. Everyone longs to act honestly and to try to help the world. Perhaps we aren't as idealistic as Don Quixote, but he acts and conducts himself in an ideal way. His value system rings true to the "life we would most like to live", therefore, I think that the story can be considered to be a good story.

Mass Communication: Media and Culture

Media Ecolgy (Chapter 25)

Despite some of his ideas, I think McLuhan has uncovered something more important than he gets credit for. I know for myself, that in my lifetime alone the paradigm shift from simplistic electronics to the new huge systems and networks of computers everywhere, has definitely made the world feel like a "global village." My own attitudes have become much more humanitarian and less focused on the inevitable differences between me and other people of all types. I think McLuhan is right in saying that how we shape our tools determines how they shape us. In San Francisco I worked at a network computer company. The technology of the "hour" vastly affected how information was transferred at stores and restaurants everywhere. It also became very apparent that cellular phones, beepers, pagers, etc. were widely advocated to "make it" in the new workplace. In a lot of ways they have become inseparable.


I found McLuhan's discussion of The Electronic Age: Rise of Global Village to be intriguing as I watch the habits of a teenager I baby-sit numerous weekends of the year. Meredith is a product of the "all-at-once" world that McLuhan describes as resonating with everything else as in a total electrical field. She is only allowed to talk on the phone until ten o'clock, but as she describes to me, she then quickly runs downstairs to her computer in the basement and gets online. The amazing thing is, all her friends will either enter the same chat room or interchange messages as if she never got off the phone. She will continue to communicate in this way until whenever she pleases. This has made her family system different from the rules I had just a few years ago in high school. When it was time to hang up, then that was it! Meredith is instantaneously connected with numerous friends, and finds this just important as talking on the phone with them, and has thus gone "back to the future." Whether this behavior is best described as part of the new era that McLuhan did not foresee, it definitely "converges" multimedia systems and creates the world that Meredith desires, exactly when she wants to communicate.

It almost goes without saying that electronic media have significantly decreased the attention span of the American public. This has become exceedingly obvious to me while I study films in my Digital Editing class. While I thought that Hitchcock's directing is brilliant, the pacing of his films seems so slow compared to the rhythm of current pictures. I am forced to really concentrate to keep my mind from wandering. I'm not sure what creates an attention span, but whatever it is, the speed of access to information that is available is putting the patience of the attention span into unneeded oblivion. Like an unused muscle that eventually atrophies, the attention span is no longer needed, and as such, it is ceasing to exist. In the movie, "Moulin Rouge", the "Roxanne" musical portion, lasting roughly six minutes, contained over 300 cuts! The media is destroying our ability to focus on a given item for any amount of time.

After pondering this theory and reflecting on the effects of the global village on my own life, I beg to differ that I become closer to people through electronic media, such as the Internet and email. Take for instance an experience I went through my freshman year concerning the popular communication medium of Instant Messaging (IM). I was obsessed with IM. Having the ability to talk with a number of friends back home instantaneously was a great way to keep my phone bill down. Also, using IM to talk to new freshman that I met at Wheaton was perfect for "getting to know" someone through a more informal and less awkward manner than "real" conversations. Unfortunately, IM consumed my life. I was content with a short, fragmented, superficial "conversation" with my friends back home, which in turn caused us to lose touch rather than keep in touch. I found that the only friends I kept from high school were the ones I called on the phone or wrote snail mail letters to. In the same way, I didn't develop close, deep friendships with people at Wheaton over IM; it took spending time face-to-face to really cultivate true relationships at school.

Semiotics (Chapter 26)

Michael Jordan plays most of his game (especially his slam dunks) with his mouth hanging wide and his tongue wagging. This has come to signify talent, expectation of greatness, and pride. Jordan wanna-bees across the country have picked up this little quirk. For them, keeping their mouth open signifies Michael Jordan and, therefore, being cool, talented, and better than everyone else. The image of superiority, however, is not derived from any talent of their own; it's based on myth.

Cultural Studies (Chapter 27)

"The ideological fight is a struggle to capture language." We see this battle in the abortion debate. The media seems to favor those with "pro-choice" beliefs. How I wish we could even the debate by having news announcers use "pro-life" instead of anti-abortion. This would be a sign that at least pro-life groups are being seen as reasonable, positive people. Yet, this group doesn't seem to be successful in capturing positive language. The media does give an ideological spin to the abortion demand by its very use of language and its connotations.

Usually I think The Record, our school newspaper, is pretty good. It covers big events on campus, has great quotables, and lets you know who's going up the tower. They do a good job of covering world events and talk about things that aren't always status quo. Last week, however, the Wheaton College Women's Soccer Team found out that even The Record, was capable of "functin[ing] to maintain the dominance of those already in positions of power." I am not a pessimist, but I am a realist and I know that male athletes tend to be put on the highest of pedestals around here. The football team, whether because of size or the fact that they outnumber every other team, seem to be particularly dominant. Last week I realized that some things never change though. Our team had just won our regional in the NCAA tournament and advanced to the quarterfinals—further than we'd ever gone before. It was a great weekend but it was not without its losses. One girl broke her leg, another sprained her ankle, and a third got knocked out. There were 600 people at Saturday's game. Any of these facts I think are considered newsworthy. However, all that appeared in the paper was the scores of the 2 games in tiny print on the back page. But you know what was covered—men's football that is about 500 this year and men's soccer who placed so low in the tournament that they had to play a mid-week game. I'm not saying The Record never covers us. In fact, they've always done a nice job. But last week proved that some still like men in sports, are men are still dominating society.

When I went to Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim culture, last spring, the media demonstrated what Hall describes as a power relationship of the 60% Muslims controlling 100% of the media. Hall suggested that we should put the spotlight directly on the ways media representations of culture reproduce social inequalities. This, I believe, would involve highlighting how only a Muslim voice is heard in their media despite the fact that around 40% of their country is not Muslim. Malaysia is not as extremely capitalistic as America, but nonetheless, a power difference is encouraged and reinforced by the media. The fact that the president and all other Muslims were praised or viewed very positively while other groups of people such as local Chinese or Indians that often practice Christianity, Buddhism, or Hinduism, were nearly unmentioned shows how the media perpetuated the predominantly cultural belief that Muslims are the most important people in their culture, while the other powerless people don't really matter.

Mass Communication: Media Effects

Uses and Gratifications (Chapter 28)


I do not like Uses and Grats. Actually, I feel quite emotional and sad after reading it. I really love Jeremy [her boyfriend] but I really hate World of Warcraft. When we started dating two years ago, it didn’t seem like that big of an issue, but now that we’ve moved in together, I’m really not sure our relationship will outlive his game! It’s the first thing he checks in the morning and the last thing he does at night—he’s even popped out of the shower to check on the progress. He claims it’s no different than my obsession with Facebook, but it’s totally different. After I read Uses and Grats, I started thinking Katz might be on to something. Jer and I are using the media to satisfy different needs. A media choice might fill different categories; I think that’s true. Jer’s WoW playing seems to be about passing time (#1), escape (#3), enjoyment (#4), social interaction (#5), relaxation (#6), and excitement (#8). I mainly use Facebook to keep up with my friends (#5). As I thought, it is totally different. But now, the sad byproduct of reading this theory is that it’s made me wonder what Jer gets out of our relationship if so many of his needs are being met by WoW? Why does he need that kind of need fulfillment instead of relaxing by spending time with me? What’s not exciting about normal life that must be fulfilled by playing the dumb game? Is he just escaping everything and everyone—including me? See what I mean? This is a sad theory!

Cultivation Theory (Chapter 29)

My freshmen year roommate and I differ on opinions. She thinks that it is all right for her to drive to Midway Airport alone at night, whereas, I believe that it is dangerous for a woman to drive there alone at night. Every time she goes to the airport to pick up a friend I ask her to bring a boy along with her because "it is much safer to have a boy with you." After reading Gerbner's Cultivation Theory, I understand why we differ so much on opinion. Growing up, I loved to watch television. In high school, my favorite shows were "ER" and "Chicago Hope," both of which are set in Chicago and are shows that are violent. Tiffany, my old roommate, on the other hand, hated watching television when she was growing up. Even now, she rarely turns on the TV. According to Gerbner's theory, I have become more cautious about driving to Midway alone at night because of the amount of television I watched that depicts women getting attacked in their car at night. Whereas Tiffany sees nothing wrong with going alone and that could be due to the fact that she watched fewer images of crimes on television.

Agenda-Setting Theory (Chapter 30)

I think the media's agenda setting works all too well on children (at least it did on me). Except it wasn't news I was watching; it was the Saturday morning line-up. After all, as a child I had a very high need for orientation. For some inexplicable reason, anything that the t.v. displayed from 6am to noon on Saturday had high relevance to me (including the color bars from 6-7). And as a child, anything dealing with growing up, being an adult or understanding the world around me touched a point of high uncertainty within my semi-hardened scull. As a result, Saturday morning t.v. had the power to tell me what to think about. I spent my play time acting out the characters from my favorite shows. I pleaded with my parents to provide me with whatever the commercials were peddling--sugar cereal, dolls with combable hair, sports cars. I wasn't picky. I dreamt Smurfs. I breathed Wonder Woman. I made wedding plans revolving around George of the Jungle. I thought about what the powers behind the television, based on their agenda, wanted me to think about. And, to be perfectly honest, I'm still a huge fan of Wonder Woman and dolls with combable hair.

I was taking the train downtown and picked up the Chicago Tribune with its front-page column by Bob Greene. He wrote about companies trying to get their employees to come in for New Year's Eve just in case Y2K damage control is needed. The companies are claiming that their midnight office parties will be the "in place" to usher in the new millenium. Greene compares all the whoopla about Y2K to what he calls "the cigar craze of a few years back:"

"You know in your heart there was no cigar craze, that ony your Uncle Izzy back in 1956 seemed to get a sensual jolt out of chomping cigars, but the cigar craze mantra was chanted so many times in the popular press that it began to seem almost true." (Oct. 31, Sec. A, pg. 2).

I remember back in my freshman year of college when I was at Indiana University and Elian Gonzalas was in the news. It was on the cover of every Time and Newsweek magazine and newspaper I saw. I was taking Political Science then and we spent full classes discussing it. At one point, an exasperated student raised her hand and asked if we could talk about something else. The teacher gave her a strange look and finally said, "I know you are sick of talking about it, but it's news and we must discuss it."

After reading this chapter I realized the power of the media in telling us what to think about and discuss. People were tired of thinking about it, but since it was in the news, the teacher insisted it must be important. She didn't tell us we had to agree or disagree with any of it, but we at least had to think about it and discuss it. I wondered why at the time because it didn't seem to be affecting my life in anyway. But I thought about it a lot at the time because it was in the news and I think about what's in the news regardless of whether or not it is directly affecting me. I was curious about the situation and I also had to learn more for my class. I had a high "need for orientation."

Cultural Context: Intercultural Communication

Communication Accommodation Theory (Chapter 31)


When I lived in England for a year, I really experienced Communication Accommodation Theory. When I first got there, I felt very American. That was what made me special. I felt like I had to prove my patriotism because that was the group I identified with. For the first few months, I actually became much more patriotic than I had ever been before. This came out largely in the way I talked. I began saying “y’all” and other Americanisms simply because I wanted to accentuate the fact that I was different. However, this divergence didn’t last too long. As I lived there longer I began to grow tired of always being “Pete the American” because I was growing to identify myself more with my British friend group—if not in cultural background then in other ways. Because of this, the way I spoke began to converge with their way more and more. I began calling people “mate,” calling the bathroom the “loo” and calling trash “rubbish.” Even now when I speak to my British friends, this way of talking comes back. My vocabulary changes and I begin to change my inflection with various phrases.

Face-Negotiation Theory (Chapter 32)

Although I'm sure I have a very high need for affiliation, I am a classic American who looks out for myself when the chips are down. As much as I hate to admit that, I've noticed as of late that it's really true. I have a really close relationship with my best friend, and I put a lot of time and energy into him. But, try as I might to truly look out for his best interests first, I always end up getting in the way. He sees that I do give a lot, but only where it's convenient for me to do so. When it really starts infringing on me, my tendency is to do what's best for me and separate myself from the situation a little bit. Ting-Toomey would say that my face concern is for myself: in conflict I become much more aggressive than cooperative. My face need is negative as I strive for autonomy when I just can't be bothered anymore. So, putting the two together, I spend time working on face-restoration by trying to give myself freedom and space.

This theory provides further insight into the different ways my boyfriend and I approach conflict. I don't shy away from direct conflict with close friends and family members. For example, I would not hesitate before asking someone to be quiet if I was trying to fall asleep, but I know of at least two occasions where Eric has lain awake for hours rather than ask an inconsiderate person to be quiet. I want a quick resolution, but he would rather avoid confrontation and hope that the situation will improve on its own. (Note: before you worry about us-we both value and encourage honest discussion of any problems in our relationship). Eric, who came to the U.S. from China seven years ago, probably feels that a direct request would shame the other person. As an American of Jewish background, I think that honest expression and exchange of information is the obvious way to handle conflict. In my family, respect wasn't a matter of knowing your place in the hierarchy; respect meant that everyone, regardless of age, could defend their view. Our conflicts were based on self-face strategies. Despite its sound, self-face strategies aren't necessarily more selfish than face-giving strategies. For me, directly confronting someone is respectful because it gives that person the chance to change or alter their behavior. Keeping my resentment or annoyance inside withholds that opportunity. If I am engaging in rude behavior, I want someone to tell me so I can change. I feel humiliated if I discover that I have consistently unknowingly offended someone and have been the object of resentment. So, while another person avoids confrontation in order to spare another's feelings, I show consideration through honest, direct expression which provides the other with the chance to save face.

This was a very interesting chapter! In an oriental (including the Middle East) culture, collectivist culture dominates. If you are not going to save "our face" or save the face for the opposing party then they won't help you.

A Middle Eastern tradition (Bedouin) that exemplifies this "saving face of the other" is the one of raiding. In order to properly raid a village you must raid it early in the morning in order to give the village all day to recover the animals. It gives the other party a chance to show their strength and save face by regaining what livestock they may have lost. Also, if an enemy asks for hospitality you were required to treat him as the guest of honor for three days. If he had not left by that time you were allowed to do what you will to him. It would be his fault. The only reason an enemy would ask for hospitality is if they were injured or weak. You would then be in charge of healing him and giving him a fair chance in a fight.

One of the main points in solving conflicts in the oriental culture is giving a fair chance. Giving the enemy honor even if they lose. Because America doesn't really care if a country keeps their honor after a conflict or not, they are often hated in these Oriental cultures. However, they also respect us because our image is very large compared to other countries (large in the sense of strength, power, wealth, etc.).

When I moved to Japan as a 12 year old I really had no concept of collectivism. The world revolved around me and how I was doing and how I was getting over culture shock. I thought it strange to ride on the train everyday to-and-from school with quiet, serious people. I wondered what kind of hell I moved to. My perception wasn't helped when I sat down in what turned out to be a reserved-elderly seat on the bus and was publicly chewed out. I figured I had done something seriously wrong to be openly chewed out in Japanese and I was right. That incident woke me up, and from then on out I adopted the Japanese virtue of respect for the elderly whenever I could. I'm sure the people on the bus tried to give me subtle signs in order to help me save face, but I didn't catch on. I would suggest researching what to do in a different culture before visiting and instinctively acting.

The part of the theory that talked about giving face (collectivist cultures) and saving face (individualistic cultures) brought to mind my experiences with a good friend of mine who is an international student from SE Asia. She always seems more concerned about the problems that we, her closest friends, are dealing with than her own. She also tries to avoid confrontation and conflict. If conflict does arise, she avoids it. Rather than dominating or trying to control situations, she instead acts as a peacemaker. I see the differences most strongly in her dealing with emotions. I can't remember any occasions when she got angry or expressed strong emotions, which are typical of those of us from more individualistic cultures. She seems to be always concerned with the consequences for all of our faces, not just hers.

Speech Codes Theory (Chapter 33)

I grew up in England where speech is a vital indication of status in life. There are many common accents, such as the famous "Cockney" dialect where words are rhymed and don't seem to make any sense (Rosie Lee=cup of tea). If you are born within the sound of the bells of St. Mary's you are a true Cockney and will grow up learning this language. Each area of Britain has its common accents, but only for the working-class people. The aristocracy speak a unanimous English which is "The Queen's English." Everyone who attends boarding school speaks the Queen's English, but the richer you are the more pronounced this accent becomes. So, speech in England not only defines the area where you come from, but it also can show the wealth of the family.

Cultural Context: Gender and Communication

Genderlect Styles (Chapter 34)


My best girlfriend and I will talk and talk for hours with many interruptions of each other, yet we have both agreed that the interruptions never bother us. Just as Tannen explains in her idea of cooperative overlap, we see the interruptions as positive and supportive cues signaling the fact that we are listening to each other. I would even go so far as to say that I need interruption in order to know that my friend is listening and involved in my story. Talking to one of my guy best friends is a totally different story. The other day, he was telling me a serious story about his life at home. I was very into what he was saying and interjected a short comment about how I feel for his situation and what he is going through. Yet immediately I could tell that he did not like me speaking when he was telling the story. Even though my comment was supportive, it did not matter to him, because he wanted control of the conversation and viewed my comment as an attack on his power.

The best example of a real difference between the need for connection and status is how my wife and I get into conflicts. I usually initiate arguments by bringing up things we need to work on, whereas my wife needs to know that everything is good right now. You see, I want to have the best relationship of anyone we know. My wife does want the same, but she thinks it should be that way to start off with a difficult thing for a male communications student.

Last year I dated a guy long distance who was also very into acting and theater. I was having a lot of difficulty at the time with my confidence as an actress due to my failures, especially compared to his large successes. So I shared my feelings with him, hoping he would relate and have some wisdom for me. By the end of the conversation, he had become really angry because he couldn't solve my problem, especially from 75 miles away. This of course made me feel even worse. I tried to explain that I wasn't asking for him to solve anything. I just wanted to talk with him because I felt he as the only one who would understand. A little more than a month later we broke up. One of the main reasons was that he thought he was being a bad boyfriend because he couldn't ever help me with my problems.

I have a good friend named Autumn who I stay in touch with regularly through conversations on the phone. Tannen's concept of genderlectics helps to explain this stark contrast in the subjects we bring up for discussion. I usually bring up matters of WHAT I am currently doing--my activities, accomplishments, and tasks before me--and seek to know the same of Autumn. Autumn usually brings up HOW people we both know are doing or she shares self-depreciating stories about her own life. My talk is very much report talk, while Autumn's is rapport, and neither of us have much interest in the other's type of talk, but go along with it until we can change the subject back to our own focus. I see several implications for the future in this theory. Understanding now that girls use rapport talk and share about others out of a desire for community, I can properly respond to what that type of communication from girls is trying to do instead of discounting it or trying to change the subject back to role/status oriented topics. Also, I don't believe that the masculine and feminine lines are drawn as distinctly between men and women as Tannen portrays, since I find myself being very feminine in my listening, conflict, and private speaking style. I am very masculine in my asking questions, telling stories, and public speaking style. However, knowing that there is more than one way to approach these activities shows me that I can either choose between different styles for better results or I can understand the needs and intentions of others (especially becoming the "giant ear" that girls apparently love).

Standpoint Theory (Chapter 35)

I applaud Harding's "insistence on local knowledge." The idea that a person can be a "transparent eyeball" (like Emerson claimed) is not realistic; each person sees through his or her own personal interpretive lens. No one can be completely objective. We have discussed this extensively in my Early American literature class, and I think that this realization is one important contribution of postmodern theory.

At first I was hesitant to embrace the idea that marginalized people have a more objective or less distorted view. But then I thought about Frederick Douglass' narrative and his analysis of slavery. Douglass saw not only how destructive slavery was to the slaves, but also to the slaveholders. The power owners had over their slaves was usually corrupting. Douglass also saw how hypocritical the slave owners were preaching love and grace on Sunday, while on Monday they were whipping their slaves for insignificant or imagined offenses. Douglass' view was much more objective, much more realistic than that of his white masters, because of his marginalized status. I think today we have much to learn from feminist writers as they offer a distinct perspective on a male-dominated world.

Muted Group Theory (Chapter 36)

It all started when I pointed out the serious lack of women in the Warner Bros. cartoon cast. I was at lunch with a mixed group of men and women. The women clammed up. The men formed an offensive line and prepared to tackle me with every 400 pound argument they had. It was a simple comment really. All I said was that, as far as I could see, there are only two female Warner Brothers characters--the clearly addlepated Granny and the hotly pursued cat who, in the end, really does mean "yes" when she says "no."

That was enough. The men came at me with both guns, but I was armed with Kramerae's theory and the strength of my convictions. They started out by telling me that I was making a big deal out of nothing and called me "sweetie." I said that cartoons raise most American children--they help define and reflect our value system. They said there are plenty of good female role models for kids and called me "hon." I countered with a reference to grotesquely proportioned Barbie dolls . . . . It went on this way for approximately half an hour. I lost. And here's where muted group theory comes in. None of the other women at the table joined into the conversation, and that's understandable since by the end of it I was tagged as a "femi-Nazi" by everyone within hearing distance. The women seemed to understand that the things they could say in private would be discounted in the public forum of the lunchroom debate table—so they probably knew they'd get bulldozed. Also, a consequence of my getting heated in battle is that the pitch of my voice raises; since this made me sound less and less like a man, my arguments were completely plowed under by the men who thought I was getting myself upset and just being "silly." On top of that, the men devalued me as an arguer by calling me diminutive names. Basically, although my arguments were well thought out and valid, I lost the battle because the men couldn't hear them—with every intelligent defense of women's issues I was losing credibility with the men. In the bowling ball game of life, I was knocking down all the pins, but the men were keeping score. So I lost.

At first I eyed this theory skeptically, thinking about extreme feminism and male-bashing. However, I really liked this theory for several points.

First, I feel that the silencing of the woman's voice is real. As both an Asian minority and female I think that subconsciously I feel my voice isn't valued or appreciated as much as a male's. In the public world I allow men to dominate, but when I'm at the dorm it's yackety yak. I'm an RA and a real leader, vocal and by action, on the floor. However, in the classroom environment I shrink back. At our staff meetings, the male RA's dominate conversation and prayers. But when the female RA's get together for our weekly dinner, you can't get us to stop talking.

Secondly, the name changing issue really resonates! For awhile I have been considering keeping my last name when I marry--for both convenience and pride in my heritage. Especially if I marry a non-Asian I worry that part of me will disappear. Aside from that, I don't look like the average "Lauren Johnson." Imagine the times I'll have to present my ID! However, when talking to others about this, most often they try to dissuade me. Law and convention serve men well and often all people buy into it. This frustrates me!

This theory really validated issues I have been thinking about lately. I appreciated it greatly as it affirmed a male-oriented society. As an Asian woman I often find myself at odds with this society.

I've experienced what Kramarae would call muted voice probably once or twice a week. But one of the most frustrating and demeaning situations occurred while I worked at a Mexican Restaurant in San Diego County. I worked my way up from hostess to "server" in six months. This was a reluctant decision even though I was their best hostess on staff. I was considered "not serious." As a server, my relationship/camaraderie with the wait staff changed somewhat since I was working more closely with them. Most of the servers were and kitchen staff were Mexican males even though there were also a few Caucasian males and females on staff. I was the youngest female server. I was sexually harassed by the Mexican males in the kitchen and from the servers. I was called "caballita, little horsey horsey" along with other derogatory comments-more sexual and demeaning than that. They were just little comments and everyone would laugh-I would generally shoot that person a look, or ask them to stop and the affects of my request wouldn't last long. I was generally counted a goody goody innocent, and told to lighten up or have a sense of humor. But I was never flattered or amused by their comments. I considered going to the management, but I didn't want to be seen as a bitch, and I certainly didn't want to cause a big stink and get people fired. I felt helpless to do anything and was pretty much laughed into silence. Additionally, one of the supervisors had alluded ot sexual things, so I would not have felt comfortable going to him. I felt completely objectified and inferior. I did not joke back with these men, and neither did half of the other women. Additionally, all of the hostess spots and cocktail server spots were taken up by women. Men occupied most of all the other job positions. According to Kramarae's theory, I was a muted black hole in someone else's universe-in this case, the universe of this particular Mexican restaurant. I also felt at a loss to name those particular work relationships. However, I do have the power now to name what I experienced—in this case, the universe of this particular Mexican restaurant. I also felt at a loss to name those particular work relationships. I do have the power now to name what I experienced: harassment and sexual harassment. Also, had I been able to form closer relationships with some of the women at the office, I might have been affirmed in my feelings of frustration and belittlement. With this kind of affirmation I might have been somewhat more proactive about the situation.

Upon reading this theory, the question that immediately assaults me, as a man, asks, "How can I give voice to muted groups in my daily interaction?" According to Kramarae's theory, this change is far more than simply using gender inclusive personal prounouns or allowing women into positions of authority in the workplace. She advocates a complete paradigm change in terms of the dominant communication mode of our society (that of men). As a man, adopting this change can be a scary thing as it involves the giving over of power and risks the accusation of weakness or femininity, when female communication modes are exchanged for male ones. Perhaps these accusations and fears should not exist, but they do and they help to formt he barrier that currently supports the status quo.

I have observed the systematic categorization of gender roles and the resulting muteness of women, in my work at a dude ranch several years ago. At this ranch all jobs were divided into crews which performed specific functions and all crews were of the same gender (Men's: Wranglers, Maintenance, and Kitchen Women's: Waitressing, Office, Story, and Housekeeping). The ranch argued that this division was important for business and biological reasons. Biological distinctions were made between jobs that were more and less physically demanding (esp. Maintenance, Wrangling from men vs. inside work for women). This distinction was important for the workplace because the ranch had experienced past difficulty with romantic relationships which reduced the working efficiency of those involved and even some which had led to compromise of its moral standards. For this reason any cross-gender relationships that were more than superficial were discouraged.

Many who were working there struggled in the restrictive atmosphere and I know that at least some of the girls would have preferred to be on guy's crews--esp. Maintenance and Wrangling, but I don't know many guys who wanted to go the other way. Were these women oppressed by those social and institutional categories? Probably.

Further, related to muted group theory, it could be argued that the vocabulary typifying a ranch atmosphere is characterized by male terms hearkening back to the "good-ol-days." In this sense it is possible that women's freedom to critique the system was hampered by the distinctly prevalent male vocabulary.

So, what are the implications? How can I work to solve problems of institutional group muting? The first step is recognition and the second is relinquishing power. The implications are huge as I continue to weigh the sacrifice of position and the social roles assigned to women in the workplace, church, and home.

"Man up, cowboy up, be a man, man points, don't be a girl, you woman." Each of these is a phrase I constantly hear men and women bandying around in relation to a person's "toughness." Some are words coined by friends of mine that mean the same as being tough, "being a man." The term "man points" refers to the figurative points a person can earn for an action that is considered tough or daring. They can only be awarded by men. I have earned man points for running yellow lights that don't turn red, for being one of two girls who stayed outside throughout an entire snowball fight with these guys, and for taking someone out in a fantastic tackle. These actions were somehow defined as manly and therefore deserving of recognition by men. Now, if I were to be "womanly", or worse yet--"girly"--I would not consider that label a compliment. I say an action is girly if it involves squeamishness, weakness, and emotion. I accept the meanings given to words that give them value, and that is unfair to me as a woman. These value-laden words have been given special meaning by our society, which is perpetuated in our every day assessment that what is manly is good and to be encouraged, and what is womanly is weak and to be discouraged.


Common Threads in Comm Theories (Chapter 37)

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