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Analysis of the Uncertainty Reduction Theory on Interpersonal Communication

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Analysis of the Uncertainty Reduction theory on interpersonal communication

Through this paper I will conduct an analysis of the uncertainty reduction theory and will then apply it to my own experience here in Colorado university.

This theory has been subject to many articles and studies in the communication and social departments. Indeed, studying this theory can help us understanding human relations in interpersonal communication. Each of us has been one day confronted to uncertainty, whereas in initial encounters, or moving to a new a new place, or beginning a new work.

This theory is particularly

important for me as I experienced high uncertainty when I first arrived here in Colorado. When everything and everybody is unknown for you, you deeply try to reduce this uncertainty by all the ways possible.

Human, by nature doesnÒ't like the unknown, and he has this innate will and motivation to reduce in order to feel more comfortable

and at ease. ItÒ's particularly

true for initial encounters where there is a mutual high levels of uncertainty "When strangers meet, their primary concern is one of uncertainty reduction or increasing predictability about the behavior of both themselves and the others in the interaction"(Berger and Calabrese). According to Charles Berger, we all experience some deal of anxiety during initial encounters because we are unable to predict or control how the relationship will progress. That is why most of us develop an innate wish and desire to seek information in order to reassure oneself and to feel more secure.

The main focus of this theory is that peope seek information to reduce uncertainty in order to create a more predictable and controlled relationship. The most common way of reducing uncertainty is via information-seeking. There are three basic ways people seek information about another person:

* By using passive strategies which involves the observation of the others without mahing them aware of it. It can be like paying atention to what this persin is wearing, with whom he/she interacts...I would say that this strategy is more accurate for younger people, who are shyer and though hesitate in entering in direct contact.

* By using active strategies which involve "manipulative tactics and asking third parties information about this person. These parties can give you precious information that will help in future interaction with the person you like.

* By using interactive strategies which involve direct contact with the person. For me, this is the more effective as it gives you the opportunity to gather many information and to really see if there is interaction between you and the person. I

According to this theory, relationships develop through a series of three stages:

§ In the first stage, called the entry stage, communication rules or norms influenced the communication behaior of the person. For example, at the beginning you ask traditional quesions as how are you, whatÒ's your name?....

§ The second phase, called the personal phase, is where the interactants communicate about their attitudes, dispositions, motives, and values. This phase is typically reserved for those people who have had extended and repeated interactions with one another.

§ The final phase is called the exit phase, here interactants make the choice whereas to continue or to stop the relation.

This theory states that as uncertainty decreases, attraction generally increases. When you begin to multiply the contact with a person, you are more likely to start a relation with her in the long term, whereas a friendship or a romantic realtionship.

Berger instaured three conditions to explain the willingness to reduce uncertainty:

ь Incentive value: People will be more motivate to reduce uncertainty if they think that they can gain high incentive, important rewards in some way. For example

, you will be more motivate to reduce uncertainty with somebody that you can expect being a friend or a potential romantic partner.

ь Deviation: If someone behaves in an unexpected way, you will also want to reduce uncertainty. Curiosity can be a real good motivator and if we can not predict the behavior of this person, we will seek information in order to predict future behavior.

ÑŒ Anticipation: Basically, if you donÒ't think that you will be somebody again in the future , your motivation to reduce uncertainty will decrease. You will have the impression to habe done all these efforts for nothing.

As we can see, the theory of uncertainty reduction exlain us why we behave like we do in our relation with others. But the theory of Berger has been subject to many studies. For example

, for Sunnafrank developed

in his predicted outcome value theory that what motivates you to seek for further information is the expected positive benefices you think to obtain. According to this theory when, output value are seem to be positive for oneself, our motivation to seek information increases. But in the contrary, if we expect negative outcome, we will decrease our motivation and in the worst cass stop looking for others words if somebody feels that a person can be rewarding to him , he will look forward to get more information about him. His theory is similar to the high incentive value condition of Berger.

Some scholars have noticed some problems with this theory . Sometimes information can actually increase uncertainty rather than reduce it when the information is unexpected. Sometimes you learn some information about a person that deceive you and make you seem them different. After that you



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