Key Names and Terms

Communication Theory

Test II - Chapters 8-13, 16, +

The test will consist of 50 - 60 multiple-choice questions and will cover chapters 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, handouts and class notes. The following terms will give you an idea of what to study. Please note that some of the components of each of the theories are NOT identified in this handout. So do not limit yourself to just studying the items listed below.

Please note that points discussed in class are more likely to appear on the test. However, there will be test questions about items in the text that were not discussed in class.

Chapter 8 - Constructivism

Constructivism -- A communication theory based on the assumption that persons make sense of the world through systems of personal constructs.

Role Category Questionnaire (RCQ) -- A free-response survey used by constructivists to measure a person’s cognitive complexity in interpersonal communication.

Cognitive Complexity --A sophisticated set of mental constructs that enables a person to distinguish subtle personality and behavioral differences among people.

Construct -- The cognitive template or stencil we fit over social reality to order our impressions of people.

Differentiation -- The main component of cognitive complexity as measured by the number of separate personality constructs used on the RCQ.

Person-Centered Messages -- A tailor-made message for a specific individual and context; reflects the communicator’s ability to anticipate response and adjust accordingly.

Message Production - A three-stage process of goals, assessed, plans selected, and tactics enacted (action).

Chapter 9 - Social Penetration Theory/ Exchange Theory

Social Penetration -- The process of developing deeper intimacy with another person through mutual self-disclosure and other forms of vulnerability.

Depenetration -- Altman and Taylor's metaphoric conceptualization of the gradual process of withdrawing from closeness in a relationship.

Index of Relational Satisfaction -- The balance of positive and negative experiences in a social relationship.

Personality Structure - Onion-like layers of beliefs and feelings about self, others, and the world; deeper levels are more vulnerable, protected, and central to self-image.

Self-disclosure -- The voluntary sharing of personal history, preferences, attitudes, feelings, values, secrets, etc., with another person; transparency

Depth of penetration -- The degree of disclosure in a specific area of an individual’s life.

Law of reciprocity -- A paced and ordered process in which openness in one person leads to openness in the other

Breadth of penetration -- The range of areas in an individual’s life over which disclosure takes place.

Social exchange -- Relationship behavior and status regulated by both parties’ evaluations of perceived rewards and costs of interaction with each other.

Outcome -- The perceived rewards minus the costs of interpersonal interaction.

Minimax Principle -- An economic approach to human behavior stating that people seek to maximize their benefits and minimize their costs as they interact with others.

Comparison Level (CL) -- The threshold above which an outcome seems attractive. It is the minimal level for personal satisfaction.

Comparison Level of Alternatives (CLalt) -- The best outcomes available in other relationships; a standard for relationship stability.

Be able to recognize applied examples of the relationship between Outcome, CL, and CLalt . The chart below may help:

Outcome > CLalt / Outcome < CLalt
Outcome > CL / Happy
Stay / Happy
Outcome < CL / Unhappy
Stay / Unhappy

Chapter 10 -- Uncertainty Reduction Theory

Uncertainty Reduction -- Increased knowledge of what kind of person another is that provides an improved forecast of how a future interaction will turn out.

Axiom -- A self-evident truth that requires no additional proof.

Passive strategy - Impression formation by observing a person interact with others.

Active strategy - Impression formation by asking a third party about a person.

Interactive strategy - Impression formation through face-to-face discussion with a person.

Hedging -- Finding ways for both parties to save face when at least one of them has miscalculated.

Note: A note about the axioms - You should be able to recognize the 8 original axioms of this theory.

Chapter 11 Social Information Processing Theory

CMC - Computer-mediated communication; Text-based messages, which filter out most nonverbal cues.

Joe Walther - Communication professor at Michigan State University, who argues that given the opportunity for sufficient exchange of social messages and subsequent relational growth, face-to-face and CMC are equally useful mediums for developing close relationships.

Impression formation - The composite mental image one person forms of another

Anticipated Future Interactions - A way of extending psychological time; the likelihood of future interaction motivates CMC users to develop a relationship.

Chronemics - The study of people’s systemic handling of time in their interaction with others.

Hyperpersonal perspective - The claim that CMC relationships are often more intimate than those developed when partners are physically together.

Selective self-presentation - An online positive portrayal without fear of contradiction, which enables people to create an overwhelmingly favorable impression.

Social identity-deindividution (SIDE) - A theory that suggests CMC users overestimate their similarity with others they meet in online interest groups.

Asynchronous channel - A nonsimultaneous medium of communication that each individual can use when he or she desires.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy - The tendency for a person’s expectation of others to evoke a response from them that confirms what was originally anticipated.

Chapter 12 -- Relational Dialectics

Relational Dialectics - A dynamic knot of contradictions in personal relationships; an unceasing interplay between contrary and opposing tendencies.

Internal Dialectics - The ongoing tensions played out within a relationship, including integration-separtion, stability-change, and expression-nonexpression.

External Dialectics - The ongoing tensions between a couple and their community, including inclusion-seclusion, conventionality-uniqueness, and revelation-concealment.

Integration/separation - A class of relational dialectics that includes connectedness-separateness, inclusion-seclusion, intimacy-independence, and closeness-autonomy.

Stability/change - A class of relational dialectics that includes certainty-uncertainty, conventionality-uniqueness, predictability-surprise, and routine-novelty.

Expression/nonexpression - A class of relational dialectics that includes openness-closedness, revealation-concealment, candor-secrecy, and transparency-privacy.

Note- be able to recognize examples of the relational dialectics.

Chapter 13 -- The Interactional View

Palo Alto Group -- A group of theorists committed to the study of interpersonal interaction as part of an entire system.

Pragmatics of Human Communication -- Coauthored by Watzlawick, Beavin, and Jackson in 1967, this book marked the beginning of widespread study of the way communicative patterns sustain or destroy relationships.

Family system - A self-regulated, interdependent network of feedback loops guided by members’ rules; the behavior of each person affects and is affected by the behavior of another.

Family Homeostasis --The tacit collusion of family members to maintain the status quo.

Symptom Strategy -- A ploy by which one seeks to avoid communication by attributing his or her inability to talk to outside forces.

Content message - The report part of a message; what is said verbally

Relationship message - The command part of the message; how it is said nonverbally

Metacommunication -- Communication about communication.

Punctuation -- Interpreting an ongoing sequence of events by labeling one event as the cause and the following event as the response.

Symmetrical Communication-- Interchange based on equal power.

Complementary Communication -- Interchange based on accepted differences in power.

One-up Communication - A conversational move to gain control of the exchange; attempted domination

One-down Communication - A conversational move to yield control of the exchange; attempted submission

One-across Communication - A conversational move to neutralize or level control within the exchange; when just one party uses it, the interaction is called transitory.

Transitory Communication -- An interaction that includes one one-across message and one one-up or one-down message.

Double Bind -- A set of mutually exclusive expectations between parties that places the low-status person in a no-win situation.

Reframing -- The process of stepping outside the current perspective and giving new meaning to the same situation.

Chapter 16 - Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Cognitive Dissonance -- The distressing mental state caused by inconsistency between a person’s two beliefs or a belief and an action.

Selective Exposure -- The tendency people have to avoid information that would create cognitive dissonance because it’s incompatible with their current beliefs.

Postdecision Dissonance -- Strong doubts experienced after making an important, close-call decision that is difficult to reverse.

Minimal Justification Hypothesis - A claim that the best way to stimulate an attitude change in others is to offer just enough incentive to elicit counterattitudinal behavior.

Compliance - Public conformity to another’s expectation without necessarily having a private conviction that matches the behavior.

Note – Be able to recognize examples of the ways that people reduce dissonance (not from book).

Communication Apprehension (not from book)

Communication Apprehension (CA) -- an individual’s level of fear of communicating with another person or persons

Trait CA -- having CA in a wide variety of contexts -- such as public speaking, group presentations, formal meetings, informal meetings, and one-on-one situations.

Generalized Context CA -- Having CA in only one or two of the above settings.

Person/Group CA -- having CA toward a specific person or group

Situational CA -- having CA while addressing a specific group or individual in a specific situation

Inappropriate Cognitive Processing - thinking negative thoughts causes communication apprehension

Excessive Activation - uncontrolled physiological response causes communication apprehension

Cognitive Restructuring – A treatment for high levels of communication apprehension

Systematic Desensitization - treatment method based on deep muscle relaxation and visualization. Helps control physiological activation.