From the Instructors Manual
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Chapter 1—Launching Your Study of Communication Theory
- What is a theory and what does it do?
- Ernest Bormann defined theory as “an umbrella term for all careful, systematic, and self-conscious discussion and analysis of communication phenomena.”
- This definition is purposefully broad, but may not be helpful in providing a direction for study.
- Judee Burgoon suggested that a theory is nothing more than “a set of systematic informed hunches about the way things work.”
- Set of hunches.
- If a theory is a set of hunches, it means we aren’t yet sure we have the answer.
- Theories always involve an element of speculation or conjecture.
- A theory is not just one inspired thought or an isolated idea.
- Good theories define their key terms.
- A theory offers some sort of explanation.
- A theory offers some indication of scope.
- Informed hunches.
- A theorist’s hunches should be informed.
- A theorist has a responsibility to check it out.
- A theorist should be familiar with alternate explanations and interpretations.
- Hunches that are systematic.
- A theory is an integrated system of concepts, laying out both relevant terms and their relationship to one another.
- A theory ties together ideas into a unified whole.
- Images of theory.
- Theory might also be understood using descriptive metaphors.
- Karl Popper described theories as nets, a tool used to grasp an elusive concept.
- Theories can be seen as lenses which help focus attention.
- A communication theory is a kind of map that’s designed to help you navigate some part of the topography of human relationships.
- What is communication?
- No singular definition of communication is agreed upon by communication scholars.
- Frank Dance, who published the first comprehensive book on communication theory, concluded that we’re “trying to make the concept of communication do too much work for us.”
- Communication is the relational process of creating and interpreting messages that elicit a response.
- Messages are at the core of communication study.
- Communication theories deal specifically with messages.
- The term text is synonymous with a message.
- Communicators usually make conscious choices about a message’s form and substance.
- Messages are symbolically encoded and decoded by people based on the meanings they assign.
- Communication is an on-going relational process between two or more people, which both affects their interpretation of the messages as well as the nature of the connection between the people. Messages are polysemic and subject to different interpretations.
- For whatever reason, if a message fails to stimulate any cognitive, emotional, or behavioral reaction, it seems pointless to refer to it as communication.
- An arrangement of ideas to aid comprehension.
- The arrangement of the book’s chapters is explained.
- The theory chapters are divided into four major divisions: interpersonal communication, group and public communication, mass communication, and cultural context.
- Chapter features to enliven theory
- Personal application will make theory doubly interesting and memorable for you.
- We also make a consistent effort to link each theory with its creator(s).
- Don’t overlook the three features at the end of each chapter.
- In every chapter we include a cartoon for your learning and enjoyment.
You can access the Outline for a particular chapter in several ways:
- Switch to View by Theory, then select the desired theory/chapter from the drop-down list at the top of the page. Look in the list of available resources.
- To quickly find a theory by chapter number, use the Table of Contents and link from there. It will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.
- You can also use the Theory List, which will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.
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