SELECT AN EDITION:
9th EDITION   10th EDITION

 

Theory Resources

DEEPEN YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE THEORIES IN THE 10TH EDITION

 

Resources
by Type




 CHAPTER OUTLINES






 LINKS





Instructors can get additional
resources. Read more


New to Theory Resources?
Find out more in this
short video overview (3:01).

Chapter Outlines
10th Edition

From the Instructors Manual


List mode: Normal (click on theory name to show detail) | Show All details | Clear details

Chapter  9—Uncertainty Reduction Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Charles Berger notes that the beginnings of personal relationships are fraught with uncertainties.
    2. Uncertainty reduction theory focuses on how human communication is used to gain knowledge and create understanding.
    3. Any of three prior conditions—anticipation of future interaction, incentive value, or deviance—can boost our drive to reduce uncertainty.
  2. Uncertainty reduction: To predict and explain.
    1. Berger’s emphasis on explanation (our inferences about why people do what they do) comes from the attribution theory of Fritz Heider.
    2. There are at least two types of uncertainty.
      1. Behavioral questions, which are often reduced by following accepted procedural protocols.
      2. Cognitive questions, which are reduced by acquiring information. Cognitive uncertainty is what Berger is addressing.
  3. An axiomatic theory: Certainty about uncertainty.
    1. Berger proposes a series of axioms to explain the connection between uncertainty and eight key variables.
    2. Axioms are traditionally regarded as self-evident truths that require no additional proof.
      1. Axiom 1, verbal communication: As the amount of verbal communication between strangers increases, the level of uncertainty decreases, and as a result, verbal communication increases.
      2. Axiom 2, nonverbal warmth: As nonverbal affiliative expressiveness increases, uncertainty levels will decrease. Decreases in uncertainty level will cause increases in nonverbal warmth.
      3. Axiom 3, information seeking: High levels of uncertainty cause increases in information-seeking behavior. As uncertainty levels decline, information-seeking behavior decreases.
      4. Axiom 4, self-disclosure: High levels of uncertainty in a relationship cause decreases in the intimacy level of communication content. Low levels of uncertainty produce high levels of intimacy.
      5. Axiom 5, reciprocity: High levels of uncertainty produce high rates of reciprocity. Low levels of uncertainty produce low levels of reciprocity.
      6. Axiom 6, similarity: Similarities between persons reduce uncertainty, while dissimilarities produce increases in uncertainty.
      7. Axiom 7, liking: Increases in uncertainty level produce decreases in liking; decreases in uncertainty produce increases in liking.
      8. Axiom 8, shared networks: Shared communication networks reduce uncertainty, while a lack of shared networks increases uncertainty.
  4. Theorems: The logical force of uncertainty axioms.
    1. Through pairing axioms, Berger creates 28 theorems.
    2. These 28 theorems suggest a comprehensive theory of interpersonal development based on the importance of reducing uncertainty in human interaction.
  5. Message plans to cope with uncertain responses.
    1. Berger concluded that most social interaction is goal-driven: we have reasons for saying what we say.
      1. Berger claims plans are hierarchically organized with abstract representations at the top of the hierarchy and progressively more concrete representation toward the bottom.
      2. Switching strategies at the top of the hierarchy causes changes down the hierarchy, altering behavior.
    2. Uncertainty is central to all social interaction.
    3. There is an interaction between uncertainty reduction theory and plan-based message production that suggests various strategies individuals use to cope with uncertainty and hedge against risk when deploying messages.
      1. Uncertainty reduction theorists have outlined four approaches we can use to reduce uncertainty.
        1. Using a passive strategy, we unobtrusively observe others from a distance.
        2. In an active strategy, we ask a third party for information.
        3. With an interactive strategy, we talk face-to-face with the other person and ask specific questions.
        4. The extractive strategy involves searching for information online.
      2. The complexity of a message plan is measured in two ways—the level of detail the plan includes and the number of contingency plans prepared in case the original one doesn’t work.
      3. Berger catalogs a series of planned hedges that allow a somewhat gracious retreat to “save face” when at least one of them miscalculated.
      4. The hierarchy hypothesis: When individuals are thwarted in their attempts to achieve goals, their first tendency is to alter lower-level elements of their message.
  6. Reducing uncertainty in ongoing relationships: Relational turbulence theory
    1. Can uncertainty also wreak havoc in ongoing relationships?
    2. Leanne Knobloch suggests that uncertainty in close relationships arises from whether we’re sure about our own thoughts, those of the other person, and the future of the relationship.
    3. Some life circumstances tend to generate relational uncertainty though it can occur at any point.
    4. Couples also experience partner interference as they learn to coordinate their individual goals, plans, and activities in ways that don’t annoy each other.
    5. In times of relational turbulence, we’re likely to feel unsettling emotions like anger, sadness, and fear.
    6. Over time, turbulence leads to even more uncertainty and interference, which then creates more turbulence—a vicious cycle that could threaten the health of the relationship.
    7. Knobloch’s research supports the relational turbulence theory across many types of romantic relationships, ranging from couples facing clinical depression to military spouses returning from deployment.
  7. Critique: Nagging doubts about uncertainty.
    1. Berger’s uncertainty reduction theory was an early prototype of what an objective theory should be and it continues to inspire a new generation of scholars today.
    2. As Berger himself admits, his original statement contained some propositions of dubious validity.
      1. Critics such as Kathy Kellermann consider theorem 17 particularly flawed.
      2. The tight logical structure of the theory doesn't allow us to reject one theorem without questioning the axioms behind it.
      3. In the case of theorem 17, axioms 3 and 7 must also be suspect.
      4. Kellermann and Rodney Reynolds challenge the motivational assumption of axiom 3.
      5. They also have undermined the claim that motivation to search for information is increased by anticipation of future interaction, incentive value, and deviance.
    3. Michael Sunnafrank challenges Berger’s claim that uncertainty reduction is the key to understanding early encounters.
      1. He believes that predicted outcome value more accurately explains communication in early encounters.
      2. Berger insists that you can't predict outcome values until you reduce uncertainty.
    4. Walid Afifi thinks both theories are too narrow. In his theory of motivated information management, he suggests we’re most motivated to reduce anxiety rather than uncertainty.
    5. Despite these problems, Berger's theory has stimulated considerable discussion within the discipline.

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.

Back to top



Resources
by Type




 OUTLINES


 VIDEOS


 ESSAY


 LINKS





Instructors can get
additional resources.
Read more

New to Theory
Resources?

Find out more
in this short
video overview
(3:01).

Chapter Outlines
10th Edition

From the Instructors Manual


List mode: Normal (click on theory name to show detail) | Show All details | Clear details

Chapter  9—Uncertainty Reduction Theory

  1. Introduction.
    1. Charles Berger notes that the beginnings of personal relationships are fraught with uncertainties.
    2. Uncertainty reduction theory focuses on how human communication is used to gain knowledge and create understanding.
    3. Any of three prior conditions—anticipation of future interaction, incentive value, or deviance—can boost our drive to reduce uncertainty.
  2. Uncertainty reduction: To predict and explain.
    1. Berger’s emphasis on explanation (our inferences about why people do what they do) comes from the attribution theory of Fritz Heider.
    2. There are at least two types of uncertainty.
      1. Behavioral questions, which are often reduced by following accepted procedural protocols.
      2. Cognitive questions, which are reduced by acquiring information. Cognitive uncertainty is what Berger is addressing.
  3. An axiomatic theory: Certainty about uncertainty.
    1. Berger proposes a series of axioms to explain the connection between uncertainty and eight key variables.
    2. Axioms are traditionally regarded as self-evident truths that require no additional proof.
      1. Axiom 1, verbal communication: As the amount of verbal communication between strangers increases, the level of uncertainty decreases, and as a result, verbal communication increases.
      2. Axiom 2, nonverbal warmth: As nonverbal affiliative expressiveness increases, uncertainty levels will decrease. Decreases in uncertainty level will cause increases in nonverbal warmth.
      3. Axiom 3, information seeking: High levels of uncertainty cause increases in information-seeking behavior. As uncertainty levels decline, information-seeking behavior decreases.
      4. Axiom 4, self-disclosure: High levels of uncertainty in a relationship cause decreases in the intimacy level of communication content. Low levels of uncertainty produce high levels of intimacy.
      5. Axiom 5, reciprocity: High levels of uncertainty produce high rates of reciprocity. Low levels of uncertainty produce low levels of reciprocity.
      6. Axiom 6, similarity: Similarities between persons reduce uncertainty, while dissimilarities produce increases in uncertainty.
      7. Axiom 7, liking: Increases in uncertainty level produce decreases in liking; decreases in uncertainty produce increases in liking.
      8. Axiom 8, shared networks: Shared communication networks reduce uncertainty, while a lack of shared networks increases uncertainty.
  4. Theorems: The logical force of uncertainty axioms.
    1. Through pairing axioms, Berger creates 28 theorems.
    2. These 28 theorems suggest a comprehensive theory of interpersonal development based on the importance of reducing uncertainty in human interaction.
  5. Message plans to cope with uncertain responses.
    1. Berger concluded that most social interaction is goal-driven: we have reasons for saying what we say.
      1. Berger claims plans are hierarchically organized with abstract representations at the top of the hierarchy and progressively more concrete representation toward the bottom.
      2. Switching strategies at the top of the hierarchy causes changes down the hierarchy, altering behavior.
    2. Uncertainty is central to all social interaction.
    3. There is an interaction between uncertainty reduction theory and plan-based message production that suggests various strategies individuals use to cope with uncertainty and hedge against risk when deploying messages.
      1. Uncertainty reduction theorists have outlined four approaches we can use to reduce uncertainty.
        1. Using a passive strategy, we unobtrusively observe others from a distance.
        2. In an active strategy, we ask a third party for information.
        3. With an interactive strategy, we talk face-to-face with the other person and ask specific questions.
        4. The extractive strategy involves searching for information online.
      2. The complexity of a message plan is measured in two ways—the level of detail the plan includes and the number of contingency plans prepared in case the original one doesn’t work.
      3. Berger catalogs a series of planned hedges that allow a somewhat gracious retreat to “save face” when at least one of them miscalculated.
      4. The hierarchy hypothesis: When individuals are thwarted in their attempts to achieve goals, their first tendency is to alter lower-level elements of their message.
  6. Reducing uncertainty in ongoing relationships: Relational turbulence theory
    1. Can uncertainty also wreak havoc in ongoing relationships?
    2. Leanne Knobloch suggests that uncertainty in close relationships arises from whether we’re sure about our own thoughts, those of the other person, and the future of the relationship.
    3. Some life circumstances tend to generate relational uncertainty though it can occur at any point.
    4. Couples also experience partner interference as they learn to coordinate their individual goals, plans, and activities in ways that don’t annoy each other.
    5. In times of relational turbulence, we’re likely to feel unsettling emotions like anger, sadness, and fear.
    6. Over time, turbulence leads to even more uncertainty and interference, which then creates more turbulence—a vicious cycle that could threaten the health of the relationship.
    7. Knobloch’s research supports the relational turbulence theory across many types of romantic relationships, ranging from couples facing clinical depression to military spouses returning from deployment.
  7. Critique: Nagging doubts about uncertainty.
    1. Berger’s uncertainty reduction theory was an early prototype of what an objective theory should be and it continues to inspire a new generation of scholars today.
    2. As Berger himself admits, his original statement contained some propositions of dubious validity.
      1. Critics such as Kathy Kellermann consider theorem 17 particularly flawed.
      2. The tight logical structure of the theory doesn't allow us to reject one theorem without questioning the axioms behind it.
      3. In the case of theorem 17, axioms 3 and 7 must also be suspect.
      4. Kellermann and Rodney Reynolds challenge the motivational assumption of axiom 3.
      5. They also have undermined the claim that motivation to search for information is increased by anticipation of future interaction, incentive value, and deviance.
    3. Michael Sunnafrank challenges Berger’s claim that uncertainty reduction is the key to understanding early encounters.
      1. He believes that predicted outcome value more accurately explains communication in early encounters.
      2. Berger insists that you can't predict outcome values until you reduce uncertainty.
    4. Walid Afifi thinks both theories are too narrow. In his theory of motivated information management, he suggests we’re most motivated to reduce anxiety rather than uncertainty.
    5. Despite these problems, Berger's theory has stimulated considerable discussion within the discipline.

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.

Back to top



The screen on this device is not wide enough to display Theory Resources. Try rotating the device to landscape orientation to see if more options become available.
Resources available to all users:

  • Theory Overview—abstract of each chapter
  • Self-Help Quizzes—for student preparation
  • Chapter Outlines
  • Key Names—important names and terms in each chapter
  • Conversation Videos—interviews with theorists
  • Application Logs—student application of theories
  • Essay Questions—for student prepatation
  • Suggested Movie Clips—tie-in movie scenese to theories
  • Links—web resources related to each chapter
  • Primary Sources—for each theory with full chapter coverage
  • Further Resources—bibliographic and other suggestions
  • Changes—for each theory, since the previous edition
  • Theory Archive—PDF copies from the last edition in which a theory appeared

Resources available only to registered instructors who are logged in:

  • Discussion Suggestions
  • Exercises & Activities
  • PowerPoint® presentations you can use
  • Short Answer Quizzes—suggested questions and answers
  • Compare Texts—comparison of theories covered in A First Look and ten other textbooks

Information for Instructors. Read more


 

Copyright © Em Griffin 2018 | Web design by Graphic Impact