Relational Dialectics

5 Dec

Baxter and Montgomery developed this in 1988 and a general explanation of the relational dialectics theory is when communication parties experience internal, conflicting pulls which causes relationships to be in a constant state of flux, also referred to as dialectical tension.  The pressure these tensions cause can occur in a wavelike pattern over time.  Relational dialectics introduces the concept that the closer a person becomes to another, the more likely conflict will come up and potentially “tear them apart”.  There are three main relational dialectics:

  1. Connectedness and Separateness – although we desire a close and permanent connection in interpersonal relationships, no relationship can last unless both individuals spend “me” time –> too much time together can end up in losing who you really are.
  2. Certainty and Uncertainty – Partners need to be reassured in their interpersonal relationship –> without variety in things such as spontaneity  they can become boring however.
  3. Openness and Closedness – In interpersonal relationship, partners feel pressured to communicate really personal information –> this counters our natural desire for privacy and the struggle is a good representation of intimacy in relationships that’s not a straight path.

  • An example I can also easily relate to is my own relationship with my man-friend.  We illustrate the relational dialectic of connectedness and separateness in a very clear manner because of the time we spend apart.  During the week, he focuses on work and I’m focusing on school and my other activities so we just naturally don’t have the time to see each other.  However, when it comes to the weekend we fulfill that “closeness” and make sure to spend at least a full day or two together without any work or other plans getting in the way.  I feel like this really works for both since we’re doing such different things it would strain our relationship if we were to constantly be in each other’s space.






Cognitive Dissonance Theory

2 Dec

Leon Festinger developed the cognitive dissonance theory in 1957 and the focus of the theory was on consistency and (obviously) dissonance.  Dissonance is created by psychological inconsistencies and this theory looks at the effect when ideas and behaviors in people don’t match.  Four major terms can help explain this theory.  Selective Exposure: the tendency people have to avoid information that would create cognitive dissonance because it’s incompatible with current beliefs. Post-Decision Dissonance: strong doubts that are experienced after making important, close-call decisions that are difficult to reverse.  Compliance: public conformity to another’s expectations without having private conviction that matches that behavior. Dissonance Thermometer: a hypothetical, reliable gauge of the dissonance that a person feels as a result of inconsistency.

I experience cognitive dissonance theory every single day.  Yup, I’m a smoker and while I’m not proud of it, I’ve come to accept the negativity that comes with that.  I know that smoking is harmful but not only am I addicted, I love smoking and this is a prime example of cognitive dissonance.  Selective exposure? Yup, I hate any commercials on products that can “help” you quit smoking so I always change the channel.  Post-Decision dissonance? Sneaking around cigarettes as a teenager always got my heartbeat racing but even though I would always panic about getting caught, whatever.  All in all, if I’m smoking a cigarette yes I know it’s bad and no you don’t have to tell me why it’s bad.


Media Ecology

23 Nov

Media Ecology is a theory that was developed by Marshall McLuhan focusing on the effects of various types of media on our environments.  It’s studying how a variety of personal and social environments are created by different forms of communication technology. McLuhan stated that we create technology and in turn, technology re-creates who we are; believing in “Global Village” which was that media unifies the world.  He strongly believed that the medium is in the message and that the media gives us a focus for our perceptions and allows us to organize our experiences in such a way.

An example of this is what one of my roommates has actually just tried out: online dating.  This is now a very relevant example of how the media ecology theory influences the way people meet and socialize.  In the case of my roommate, she’s a really friendly and amazing person but by using a different medium that’s part of the electronic era she can be connected to people in a way that opens up so many doors.Nov.-9-A-Newbies-Guide-To-Online-Dating

Social Penetration Theory

23 Nov

The social penetration theory was developed by Altman and Taylor in 1973 and states that as a relationship develops, communication shifts over from relatively shallow, non-intimate levels to a deeper and more personal one.  Basically it means that the more time we spend with others, the more likely we are to self-disclose more intimate thoughts and details about ourself.

I feel like this really relates to one of my personal relationships that have just really “developed” in the last two months.  One of my friends, Karoline, has dated one of my friends for the last two years.  Obviously, I’ve known her since their relationship first started however she was living in NYC at the time so I never really got a chance to know her. We’d do the standard “Wow, haven’t seen you in a few weeks-you look great-what are you up to-yeah me too-let’s go back to our boyfriends” kind of conversation. However, she’s recently moved in with her boyfriend and because I am the only other girl who knows the same people we became instant best friends by default.  It all began with me inviting her out to do a few girly things here and there and we go through the awkwardness and really found things that we had in common and now I find myself calling her when I’m stressed about work/school/dance/the man-friend, etc.  This is a great example of how our relationship shifted from a pretty “distant” stage to really being honest and just forgetting about all the social filters.530108_228375713956980_1118906043_n


13 Nov

Groupthink was developed by Irving Janis, a social psychologist who was working at Yale University.  He wrote a book in 1982 called Groupthink: psychological studies of policy decisions and fiascoes outlining this specific theory. Janis defined groupthink as “a mode of thinking that people engage in when they’re deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action”. To summarize it’s an explanation of the technical errors made within a group when collective decisions are made.

A movie that I recently watched and is a personal favorite (not because it was filmed on one of the best islands in Thailand) that demonstrates groupthink is The Beach.  In the film the main character (Richard) is told of a beautiful utopia and he ends up finding this mystery island where a group of foreigners have created their own society.  They feel they have discovered the perfect balance of happiness and peace without any regard to the harsh realities of the world.  One particular scene where I felt represented this best was when one of their “people” is attacked by a shark and desperately needs professional medical help.  However, since everyone fears their hideaway may be discovered they have to make a tough choice as a group and end up abandoning the severely injured man in the woods.  The group decided that that was the superior decision without any regard to a man’s life and that’s a tough decision that’s a part of groupthink.

Expectancy Violations Theory

30 Oct

I personally find that the Expectancy Violation theory is really interesting and one of the more relatable ones.  It sees communication as the exchange of information which is really high in relativity and can be used to “violate” the expectations of another.   This can be perceived either positively or negatively depending on who the people communicating are.  It’s a very practical and useful theory since it assumes that there are universal norms and reactions to violations of those norms.  It is also another way to predict what reactions to violation of norms could end up being. The theory was developed by Judee Burgoon in 1978.

This is the perfect time to use the example of how you can really annoy people; my case being on my way to work when I take the Orange line train.  One day, there was a group of teenage girls in the same cart as I was and here’s the best part… They started pole dancing.  They were trying to be funny and obviously thought it was “cool” but one girl just started giving the sweetest old lady a lap dance!  No one knew how to react at first, I personally thought it was a joke and there was some hidden camera.  The girl who was giving a rather lewd lapdance for the old lady (who I don’t think could speak English and was just in utter shock she couldn’t move) then proceeds to start grinding on a guy who she thought was “cute” and it ended just as quickly as it started when we finally got to their stop and they all stumbled out laughing.  Talk about getting in people’s personal space.

Symbolic Interaction Theory

16 Oct

While interactionism included many leaders such as Max Weber, George Herbert Mead, and Manford Kuhn among others; Herbert Blumer was the one who coined the term “symbolic interaction”.  According to him meaning can be created in interactions between people and are modified through interpretive processes.

I find that this is a perfect example to explain one of the quirky things me and one of my best friends do.  We both love the television show, “Friends” and to this day every time we see each other back in Bangkok we just have to watch at least an entire season over the break.  This example might seem a bit strange but it has to do with both of us associating toilet seat covers… with Christmas presents.  Why?  Because in one episode from either the first or second season, Chandler and Joey didn’t have enough time to go buy everyone presents so when they stopped at a gas station they made the best with what they could find.  They end up giving Phoebe toilet seat covers and she was the only one who was actually really excited about this and thought it was a sweet gesture!  So now, whenever I see a bathroom stall that has a toilet seat cover dispensary I just think about Christmas and know that if I send a picture of it to my friend she immediately knows what that means.