Applying communication theory for professional life
Elain D. Zelley
Chapter 1 Introduction to communication theory
Communication = the process by which people interactively create, sustain and manage meaning.
There are 3 types of theories:
- Commonsense theory
o Created by an individual‟s own personal experience.
o Useful to us and are often a basis for our decisions about how to communicate.
- Working theory
o Generalizations made in particular professions about the best techniques for doing
- Scholarly theory
o The theory has undergone systematic research
o Provides more thorough accurate and abstract explanations for communication.
o They are often more complex and difficult to understand
Inductive theory development ( grounded theory) – research comes before theory. Study on a
particular topic and based on the results of the research, develop a theory.
Deductive theory development – a hypothesis, or a working theory must be developed before any
research is conducted.
Research – the methodical gathering of data as well as the careful reporting of the results of the data
Primary research – research reported by the person who conducted it. Often published in academic
Secondary research – research reported by someone other than the person who conducted it. This is
published in newspapers or textbooks.
There are different research methods in communication. Below you can see the different ones.
Experimentation is ultimately concerned with causation and control. An experiment is the only
research method that allows researches to conclude that one thing causes another. There are 2
possible settings for an experiment, a laboratory experiment or a field experiment.
Laboratory experiment – takes place in a controlled setting, so that the researcher might better
control his or her efforts at manipulations.
Field experiments – take place in participants‟ natural surroundings.
There are always 2 variables within a research.
Variable any concepts that has 2 or more values, such as gender.
Independent variable presumed cause
Dependent variable presumed effect
If you are interested in knowing whether bright colors in advertisements cause increased sales, your
independent variable is the color and the dependent variable is the amount of sales dollars.
The most common means of studying communication is through the use of surveys. Market research
and other surveys are an example of this. In general, there are 2 types of surveys.
Interviews – participants respond orally.
Questionnaires – respond in writing.
- Open ended questions answer in their own words
- Closed ended questions
Sampling – small number of people in the population of interest. If the sample is well selected, the
results of the survey are likely also to hold true for the entire group.
Random samples every member of the target group has an equal chance of being selected.
Non random samples volunteers.
Random samples are more likely to use, because they give a more representative view of the
Is used to uncover the content, nature or structure of messages.
There are 3 distinct forms that textual analyses take in the communication discipline:
- Rhetorical criticism a systematic method for describing, analyzing, interpreting and
evaluating the persuasive force of messages.
- Content analysis indentify, classify and analyze the occurrence of particular types of
messages. Developed to study mass mediated messages.
- Interaction analysis ( conversation analysis) focus on interpersonal or group communication
interactions that have been recorded, with a specific emphasis on the nature or structure of
Used by scholars of communication. The researcher must place him or herself into a particular culture
or context to understand the communication rules and meanings for that culture or context.
Complete participants researcher is fully involved in the social setting and the participants do not
know that someone is studying them.
Participant – observer researcher becomes fully involved with the culture or contexts, but she or he
has admitted his or her research agenda before entering the environment. Are more frequently
Complete observers do not interact with the members of the culture or context.
Research method What it reveals What it conceals
Experiment Cause and effect Whether the cause-effect
relationship holds true in less
Survey Respondents‟ thoughts, feelings Cannot establish causality,
and intentions cannot determine what people
Textual analysis The content, nature and The effect of the message on
structure of messages the receiver
Ethnography Rules and meanings of May provide a highly subjective
communication in a culture or ( and therefore biased) view of
context the culture and context
Subjectivity one‟s own interpretation ois of interest.
Objectivity a central feature of social science.
Quantitative methods rely on numbers of statistics as the source of data
Qualitative methods reject the limitations on individual interpretation that control requires.
Evaluating the usefulness of the theory.
There are some criteria for evaluating theory, which are shown below.
Area of evaluation What to look for
Accuracy Has the research supported that the theory
works the way it says it does. Look at the
research studies that have sued the theory.
Practicality Have real-world applications been found for the
Simplicity Is the theory formulated as simply as possible.
Consistency Internal ideas of the theory are logically built
on one another
External refers to the theory‟s consistency
with other widely held theories.
Acuity To what extent does the theory make clear an
otherwise complex experience?
Chapter 2 Explaining theories of intrapersonal communication
Intrapersonal communication = communication with oneself. Individuals analyze others‟ behavior,
attitudes and messages to assign meaning to a given event. There are 4 theories that examine the
intrapersonal aspects of communication.
1. Message design logics
Your belief about communication that, in turn, links thoughts to the construction of messages. People
who have different views about the nature and function of communication will have different views
about the nature and function of communication that will construct different types of messages.
There are 3 message design logics:
- Expressive message design logic a sender-focused pattern. A person using this pattern is
concerned primarily with self-expression. If it is in their head, it‟s out their mouth.
- Conventional message design logic communication as a game that is played cooperatively
these individuals view communication contexts, roles and relationships as having particular
guidelines for behavior. They are concerned about saying and doing the right thing in any
- Rhetorical message design logic as the means to create situations and negotiate multiple
goals. This theory is noted for flexibility as well as for in depth of communications skills. Pay
close attention to other peoples‟ communication in an effort to figure out others‟ points of
When 2 parties use the same MDL, these individuals recognize that the problems are communication
problems. When 2 parties use different MLDL, they often do not realize they have communication
problems, they blame it on mistaken beliefs or undesirable personality characteristics.
2. Attribution theory
Explains the cognitive process one uses when trying to make causal explanations for behavior.
1. Attribution as naïve psychology
The assumptions individuals make regarding the causes of behavior as well as the judgments made
about who is responsible for that behavior. When you see a person act, you immediately make
judgments about the causal nature of the conduct.
Dispositional factors refer to internal or personal features, such as one‟s personality, character or
biological traits. These factors are relatively stable and unique to each individual.
Situational factors external dynamics that are relatively uncontrollable and determined by the
environment or circumstance at hand. These factors vary to much a greater extent than do internal
2. Correspondent inference theory
Correspondent inferences judgments of intention. Did the person intentionally act in a certain way,
knowing the effects the behavior would have?
There are several factors that one can consider when determining the purpose of another‟s behavior:
- Choice whether the actor had any alternatives
- Assumed social desirability behaves in a manner contrary to social conventions, you are
more likely to infer that the behavior reflects the person‟s true character.
- Social role public position.
- Prior expectations previous encounters with an actor or the knowledge about the person‟s
- Hedonic relevance the degree to which you believe an actor‟s behavior directly affects you,
also shapes your assessment of the actor‟s intentions.
- Personalism the belief that an actor specifically and intentionally behaves in ways to hurt or
3. Covariation model
Explains the causal nature of the complete attribution process. Individuals judge the causality of
another‟s behavior by examining 4 factors: consensus, consistency, distinctiveness and controllability.
When the first three are combined, a perceiver can judge whether the actions were internally
controlled ( disposition) or externally controlled ( situational)
Consensus would other people react similarly if placed in the same situation. Example one
person out of a whole meeting is angry about something, while others are quite satisfied with the
outcome of the meeting. That means a low consensus. But when all members of the meeting are
smiling and satisfied, that means a high consensus.
Consistency whether the person in questions engages in similar behaviors over time. If a person
always seems to be angry and rude to colleagues, then you would say that her ill-tempered behavior
after the sales meeting is highly consistent with her previous behavior.
Distinctiveness whether the person acts differently in one situation than in others. This increase
with other‟s conformity and number of observances over the time.
Interior locus of control the actor could have controlled the behavior.
Exterior locus of control the behavior appears to have been unavoidable.
3. Uncertainty reduction theory
Social life is filled with ambiguities. This theory seeks to explain and predict when, why and how
individuals use communication to minimize their doubts when interacting with others. There are
several ways to guide the uncertainty reduction framework.
1. Reducing uncertainty
- Anticipation of future interaction you are more motivated to reduce uncertainty about
someone who you are likely to see again.
- Incentive value you are prompted to learn more about someone when the individual in
question has the potential to provide you with rewards. What can this person do for you or to
- Deviance if a person is odd, bizarre or unusual in some way that counters your
expectations, this theory suggests that individuals will be more likely to reduce their
uncertainty about this person.
Types of uncertainty
- Behavioral uncertainty your insecurity about which actions are appropriate in given
- Cognitive uncertainty when individuals question how they should act in a given situation,
what to think and so on.
Uncertainty reduction strategies:
- Passive strategy individuals observe their surroundings an gather clues about which
behaviors are appropriate as well as which attitudes and beliefs others hold.
- Active strategy seeking information from the third party. You go to someone else who may
know more about the person or situation in question.
- Interactive strategy when you go straight to the source in question and ask for as much
information as possible.
Example December holiday season approaches, you begin to wonder whether you should give a
gift to your boss. You could wait and see if others give gifts (passive) or you could ask several peers
what they do for their supervisors (active) or you could directly ask you r boss what the company
culture is and what he or she expects (interactive).
4. Expectancy violation theory
Explains the various meanings that people attribute to the violation, of their personal space.
Humans have competing needs for personal space and for affiliation.
Reciprocate moving closer or turning toward the individual when he or she is violating your
Compensate doing the opposite of your partner‟s behavior.
Core concepts of expectancy violations theory
Expectancy what individual anticipates will happen in a given situation. Context, relationship and
communicator‟s characteristics are important in this expectancy.
Violation valence positive or negative evaluation you make about a behavior that you did not
Communicator reward valence = an evaluation you make about the person who committed the
violation. Does this person have the ability to reward ( or punish) you in the future.
Look at figure 2.1 on page 43 for the picture.
Chapter 3 Explaining theories of interpersonal communication
Interpersonal communication knows different interpretations about what the exact meaning of the
word combination is:
- According to Miller (1978), IPC occurs between 2 individuals when they are close in proximity,
able to provide immediate feedback an utilize multiple senses.
- According to Peters (1974), IPC includes communication that is personal and occurring
between people who are more than acquaintances.
The main explanation in the book is: PC includes those messages that occur between 2,
interdependent persons. IPC messages are offered to initiate, define, maintain or further a
relationship. IPC is more than just saying a polite hello to the salesclerk in our favorite department
store and then scurrying away never to be seen again. There are 4 theories that are critical to current
understandings of interpersonal communication and the relationships that develop from these
1. Systems perspective
System theories are used to explain nearly all communication contexts. A focus on the
interdependence that develops whenever people interact with each other.
Assumptions of the systems perspective
Communication is the means by which systems are created and sustained. Provide moth macro and
micro approaches to studying the communication that takes place in relationships.
Micro approach how individuals and interpersonal relationships between individuals may influence
the group as a whole
Macro approach a recognition of how a larger social institution (company) might influence smaller
groups of people such a s work groups or families.
System = a group of individuals who interrelate to form a whole. Examples are a family, work group
or sports team.
Subsystem = a smaller part of the group as a whole, such as partners in a family.
Supra system = the larger system within which the system operates, such as the national football
league for an individual football team.
Nonsummativity = the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Some sports teams have a few
superstars, but when they work together, they win a lot of games. The point of nonsummativity is
that the whole is qualitatively and quantatively different from the individual components.
Positive synergy = the system as a whole might work together to create more than what might be
accomplished by those individuals alone.
Negative synergy = the group achieves less than the individual parts would suggest.
Interdependence = all system members are dependent on all other system members. This is the
major reason of nonsummativity.
Homeostatis = the natural balance or equilibrium within a group. It is the tendency for a given system
to maintain stability in the face of change. Stability can be either functional or dysfunctional for the
The system theory recognizes that when a system experiences a novel situation, whether positive or
negative, its members will somehow adjust to maintain stability, whether that stability is positive or
Equifinality = there are multiple ways to achieve the same goal.
System approaches focus on the communication that takes place among groups of interacting
individuals. It focuses on patterns of communication that exist to sustain homeostatis and achieve
systemic goals. The approach also recognizes the influences of larger suprasystems as well as
subsystems. As a theoretical approach, it is typically perceived as a description of interpersonal
communication, rather than as providing specific testable principles.
There are 5 axioms of communicating:
- The impossibility of not communicating it will affect your relationship
- Content and relationship levels how you say what you say
- The problem of punctuation forget about assigning blame
- Digital and analogical communication analogy comm. Can express powerful feelings directly
- Complementary and symmetrical communication power in the relationship.
2. Politeness theory
The politeness theory explains how and why individuals try to promote, protect or save face,
especially when embarrassing or shameful situations arise unexpectedly. This theory clarifies how we
manage our own and others‟ identities through interaction, in particular, through the use of politeness
Assumptions of the politeness theory
- Face refers to the desired self-image that you wish to present to others.
o Positive face a person‟s need to be liked, appreciated and admired by select
o Negative face a person‟s desire to act rely, within constraints from others.
o It is difficult to achieve positive and negative face simultaneously.
- Human beings are rational and goal oriented, at least with respect to achieving face needs.
o Face management works the best when everyone involved helps to maintain the face
- Maintains that some behaviors are fundamentally face threatening.
o Face threatening acts (FTA‟s) include common behaviors such as apologies,
compliments, criticisms, requests and threats.
There are several strategies:
1. Preserving face
Preventive facework communications that a person can use to help oneself or another avert face
Corrective facework consist of messages that an individual can use to restore one‟s own face or to
help another restore face after an FTA has occurred. Use of strategies such as avoidance, humor.
Individuals can choose one of 5 suprastrategies when communication in a manner that could
potentially threaten the face of another.
- Avoidance chooses not to communicate in a way that would create embarrassment or a
loss of face for another.
- Goes off record subtly hints or indirectly mentions the face-threatening topic.
- Negative politeness when a speaker makes an effort to recognize the other‟s negative face
need, you appeal to the receiver‟s negative face needs through apologies and self-effacement
to make yourself appear vulnerable to the other.
- Positive politeness the speaker emphasizes the receiver‟s need fo positive face, the need to
- Bald on record the communicator makes no attempt to protect the other‟s face and simply
commits the face threatening act.
There are several factors which influence the politeness theory, such as prestige, power and risk.
3. Social exchange theory
A broad approach used to explain and predict relationship maintenance. SET clarifies when and why
individuals continue and develop some personal relationships while ending others. The theory takes
into account how satisfied you will be with the relationship that you choose to maintain.
Assumptions of the social exchange theory
- Personal relationships are a function of comparing benefitgs gained vs. costs to attain those
- Minimax principle people want to make the most of benefits while lessening the costs.
- Humans are selfish.
Core components of the socials exchange theory
1. Social relationships bring both rewards and costs.
The outcome of a relationship = rewards – costs
2. Comparison level represents what rewards a person expects to receive in a particular
relationship. Predicting one‟s satisfaction with a relationship is based on a positive outcome
value that also meets or exceeds one‟s expectations.
3. Comparison level of alternatives -> determining one‟s satisfaction with a relationship is still
not enough to predict whether the relationship will continue or end. Only when you perceive
that the alternatives are greater than our outcome and greater than our comparison level will
you end a relationship.
4. Dialectical perspective
Relationships are dynamic, it is impossible for a relationship to maintain a certain level of satisfaction
or reach a constant statis quo.
There are 4 primary assumptions which guide to a dialectical approach:
- Praxis relationship trajectories are neither linear, nor repetitive. A dialectical perspective
assumes that relationships can become more intimate or less intimate over time.
- Change the only guarantee in a relationship is that it will change
- Contradictions within every relationship, both partners have essential, yet opposing needs.
- Totality interdependence between relationship partners. Without interdependence, a
relationship cannot exist.
There are 3 tensions thought to exists between relationship partners:
- Autonomy – connections the tension between the desire to feel connected to one‟s partner
vs. the desire to maintain a sense of independence.
- Openness – closedness the pull between wanting to open up and self-disclose while also
wanting to maintain one‟s privacy.
- Predictability – novelty the tension between wanting stability or steadiness while also
wanting opportunities for spontaneity.
There are 3 central tensions to exist between the relational partners as a unit and their social world:
- Inclusion – seclusion the tension partners experience when they want to spend time with
friends family vs. wanting time to spend alone together as a couple.
- Revelation – concealment the tension between relationship partners who want to reveal
aspects of their relationship to the outside world while also wanting to keep some aspects of
their relationship private.
- Conventionality – uniqueness the tension partners feel between wanting to behave in ways
that are considered normative or traditional vs. wanting to emphasize their relationship‟s
uniqueness by doing something differently.
Internal dialectics Corresponding external dialectics
Autonomy – connection Inclusion – seclusion
Openness – closedness Revelation – concealment
Predictability – novelty Conventionality – uniqueness
To manage or sustain a relationship, these tensions must be managed. There are 4 primary strategies
used to handle the internal and external tensions:
1. Selection involves choosing for favor one pole or need at the expense of the other.
2. Cyclic alternation fulfill one pole or need now and will shift to fulfill the other pole at a later
time, creating back-and-forth.
3. Segmentation certain issues coincide with one pole or need, and other issues are
appropriate for the opposite pole.
4. Integration incorporating aspects of both poles so as to create a more fulfilling experience.
Chapter 4 Explaining theories of culture
Culture = one‟s identification with and acceptance into a group that shares symbols, meanings,
experiences and behavior.
cross cultural communication = the comparison of 2 or more cultural communities, comparing conflict
styles of US managers with those of Korean managers.
Intercultural communication = the actual interaction between members of different cultures, for
instance, examining what happens when a German executive reprimands a Chinese subordinate.
There are 4 theories which examine broadly defined notions of culture and emphasize how culture
shapes and is shaped by communication.
1. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions
His analysis concluded that there are 5 dimensions that can be used to differentiate and rate various
1. Individualism - collectivism
How people define themselves and their relationships with others. There are 4 characteristics of
cultures that fall on the individualism side:
- The belief that the individual is the most important entity in any social setting. Focus is on the
self before all other relationships.
- Independence is more important than dependence.
- Individualistic cultures reward individual achievement
- These cultures value the uniqueness of each individual.
- Low context communication style values the direct and explicit expression of ideas.
Collectivism is the opposite of what is just mentioned above.
2. Uncertainty avoidance
Refers to the extent to which people within a culture are made nervous by situation which they
perceive as unstructured, unclear or unpredictable.
High uncertainty avoidance maintain strict codes for behavior, and are quite punctual.
Low uncertainty avoidance cultures more inclined to take risk, innovate and value thinking outside
of the box.
3. Power distance
Quite clear to me
4. Masculinity – femininity
Masculine cultures are those that use the reality of biological sex in the creation of distinct roles for
men and women. The USA is a masculine culture. There is still a significant wage difference between
the both sexes.
5. Long term vs. short term orientation
Long term orientation associated with thrift, savings and the willingness to subordinate oné self to
achieve a goal.
Short term orientation a desire for immediate gratification.
2. Communication accommodation theory
This theory can explain many of the changes in your speech and language use. This theory provides
and informative platform from which to understand cultural differences and similarities with regard to
speech and language.
In groups = social affiliations to which an individual feels that he or she belongs.
Out groups = those social affiliations to which a person feels that he or she does not belong.
When a person wants to be viewed as part of an in-group, this theory predicts that this person will
accommodate by convergence.
Convergence = you will alter your speech an behavior so that it matches that of your conversational
When individuals don‟t want to be associated with a certain group or do find a person interpersonally
unattractive, you want to differentiate yourself from a particular crowd. This is divergence.
Divergence = you will seek to make your speech different. A kindergarten teacher may use a more
stern tone when disciplining the class for misbehavior.
Below you can see some consequences of accommodation.
Positive effects Negative effects
Convergence - Increased attraction - Incorrect stereotypes of
- Social approval out-group
- Increased persuasion - Loss of personal identity
Divergence - Protects cultural identity - Perceived lack of effort
- Asserts power differences - Increased psychological
3. Face-negotiation theory
Face-negotiation theory begins with an understanding of face.
Face = the desired self-image that an individual wants to present to others.
Positive face – your need to be liked, appreciated and admired.
Negative face – your desire to act freely, without constraints or imposition from other.
Face concern = awareness of others‟ face needs
Face concern dilemma = how do you address your own face needs when they may compromise your
partner‟s face needs.
Conflict – either the perceived or actual incompatibility of values, expectations, processes or outcomes
between 2 or more individuals.
Among North American relationships there are 5 conflict styles vary on 2 dimensions:
assertiveness(concern for self) or cooperation (concern for others):
- Avoid conflict lack assertiveness and cooperation; they withdraw from or seek to evade
conflict all together. There is little concern for self or for others.
- Accommodating cooperate with others but demonstrate little assertiveness, typically
conceding to their partner‟s request.
- Compete highly assertive but lack cooperation. They push their viewpoints on others
- Compromising moderate concern for self and others. Involves willingness to give up some
demands to gain others.
- Collaborating style high regards for self and others, making the person very assertive and
also very cooperative. Occurs when one actively seeks to create new solution that meet both
partners‟ interest without having to make the sacrifices involved with compromise.
Western understanding of conflict management looks at different kinds of view:
- Self face concern individuals must consider their own positive and negative face needs
- Others face concern their partner‟s positive and negative face needs.
Mutual face needs = the recognition of both self and others-face need.
The face negotiation theory predicts a causal relationship between culture, face and conflict style.
Look at the picture at page 90 to see what the most commonly used theories are for the different
4. Gender and communication : a two-culture perspective
One of the most controversial and widely debated areas of communication research in recent decades.
By distinguishing between sex and gender, a two-culture perspective illustrates that many differences
in people‟s communication are socially constructed, not biologically determined.
Chapter 5 Explaining theories of persuasion
Persuasion = human communication that is designed to influence others by modifying their beliefs,
values or attitudes.
- A goal and the intent to achieve that goal on the part of the message sender.
- Communication is the means to achieve that goal.
- The message recipient must have free will.
Attitude = relatively enduring predisposition to respond favorably or unfavorably toward something.
We have attitudes toward people. Places, events and so forth.
In this chapter are 4 kinds of theirs that explored aspects of persuasive communication.
1. Social judgment theory
This theory suggest that knowing a person‟s attitudes on subjects can provide you with clues about
how to approach a persuasive effort. People make judgments about the content of messages based
on their anchors, on a particular topic message.
In addition to an individual‟s anchor, each person‟s attitude can be placed into 3 categories:
- Latitude of acceptance all those ideas that a person finds acceptable.
- Latitude of rejection all those ideas that a person finds unacceptable.
- Latitude of non commitment ideas for which you have no opinion.
A person‟s reaction to a persuasive message depends on his or her position to the topic, there are
several steps involved in the process:
1. To map receivers‟ attitudes toward a topic. This can be accomplished through an ordered
2. How ego involved that individual is about a certain topic. When an individual is highly ego
involved with a topic, she or he believes that the issue is important.
3. The more ego involved a person is, the larger the latitude of rejection that person will have.
4. The more ego involved a person is, the smaller the latitude of noncommitment.
Contrast effect = when a message is perceived as further away from that person‟s anchor that it really
is. This response happens when the message falls within an individual‟s latitude of rejection.
Assimilation effect = when a message is received that falls within the individual‟s latitude of
acceptance, the receiver minimizes the difference between the message‟s position and his or her own
Boomerang effect = when the message actually causes a person to change his or her mind in the
direction opposite that desired.
2. Elaboration likelihood model
This model depicts persuasion as a process in which the success of influence depends largely on the
ways the receiver make sense of a message. There are 2 ways in this model.
These messages include a wealth of information, rational arguments and evidence to support a
particular conclusion. These messages are designed to create a long-term change. However, not all
individuals are capable of receiving centrally routed messages. These messages will only succeed
- The target must be highly motivated to the process all of the information being given.
- The target must be able to process the message cognitively.
Types of elaborated arguments:
- Strong arguments < create a positive cognitive response in the minds of receivers.
- Neutral arguments create a noncommittal cognitive response from the receiver. No attitude
- Weak arguments produce a negative cognitive response to the persuasive message.
Rely on a receiver‟s emotional involvement and persuade through more superficial means. This route
leads to only short-term change, if any change at all.
Types of peripheral cues:
- Authority the persuader uses the perception of authority to convince the audience to
accept the beliefs or behaviors presented.
- Commitment a person‟s dedication to a product, social cause, political party.
- Persuading through contrast the communicator needs to set up uneven points of
- Liking messages stress affinity toward a person, place or object. If we like you, we will like
- Messages of reciprocation try to influence by emphasizing a give-and-take relationship.
- Scarcity a peripheral message that preys on people‟s worry of missing out something.
Example: Quick! Get is before they‟re all gone.
- Social proof the age old notion of peer pressure. Everyone is doing it.
Types of peripheral messages:
- Positive peripheral messages perceived favorably by the audience and create a positive
affective state. They want to make a positive change in attitude.
- Neutral peripheral message leave the receivers feeling emotionally ambivalent, they don‟t
know or care about the cue used to capture their interest.
- Negative peripheral message produce negative or disapproving emotional responses within
Look at figure 5.1 at page 115.
3. Cognitive dissonance theory
This theory predicts that influence is often an intrapersonal event, occurring when incongruence
between our attitudes and behavior creates a tension that is resolved by altering either our beliefs or
our behaviors, thereby effecting a change.
Schemata = cognitive structures for organizing new information. For information to be understood or
useful, we must find a schemata with which to link the new stimulus to previously understood
There are 3 possible relationships between beliefs and behaviors:
- Irrelevance refers to beliefs and behaviors that have nothing to do with each other.
- Consonance when 2 stimuli or pieces of information are in balance or achieve congruence.
- Dissonance two stimuli or pieces of information contradict each other.
The amount of dissonance one experiences is affected by:
- Perceived importance of an issue everyone experiences different topics in another way.
- Dissonance ratio effects the amount of discomfort one feels.
- Rationalize one‟s ability to rationalize or justify, dissonance also affects the amount of
discomfort experienced when faced with conflicting beliefs and behaviors.
Selective exposure = a person actively avoids information that is inconsistent with previously
established beliefs or behavior.
Selective attention = suggest that if you have to expose yourself to a situation that is incongruent
with your beliefs, you will only attend to information that reaffirms your beliefs, disregarding any
information that fails to support your views.
Selective interpretation = individuals will carefully decipher ambiguous information so that it is
perceived to be consistent with our established beliefs.
Selective retain = individuals selectively retain information that upholds their viewpoints while more
easily dismissing or forgetting information that creates dissonance.
Persuasion through dissonance
The Cognitive dissonance theory is often considered a post decision theory, meaning that individuals
attempt to persuade themselves after a decision has been made or course of action has been enacted
that the decision or behavior was okay.
If a persuader can create or exploit dissonance while also offering a solution to minimize the disparity,
it is likely that the receiver will adopt these suggested new behaviors.
Within an organizational context, the theory predicts that by increasing employee commitments and
loyalties, employee turnover could be reduced and satisfaction improved.
By offering a solution, product or course of action that bridges the gap between receivers‟ incongruent
beliefs and behaviors, communicators may influence receivers to use these methods to create
4. Narrative paradigm
The narrative paradigm stresses the effectiveness of influence through narration – that is persuasion
trough storytelling. The most persuasive or influential message is not that of rational fact, but instead
a narrative that convinces us of „‟ good reasons‟‟ for engaging in a particular action or belief.
Narration = the symbolic words and actions that people use to assign meaning.
Narrative rationality = a logical method of reasoning by which a person can determine how believable
another‟s narrative is. This relies on good reasons.
Narrative coherence = when the narrative being used appears to flow smoothly, makes sense and is
Narrative fidelity – when the narrative appears truthful and congruent with our own expierence.
There are 5 assumptions which drive Fisher‟s (1987) explanation of the narrative paradigm:
- What makes humans unique from other creatures is our ability and drive to tell stories. Your
values, emotions and aesthetic preferences shape your beliefs and actions.
- People need a way to judge which stories are believable and which are not. Individuals use
- What a person accepts is as a „‟good reason‟‟ is based on that individual‟s culture, character,
history, values and experience.
- Rationality is determined by the nature of persons as narrative beings.
- The world as humans know is based primarily on sets of both cooperative and competing
Chapter 6 Explaining theories of leadership
Management = a formal position in an organizational hierarchy, whereas leadership is not based on a
Challenge of management :
- Managers need planning skills
- Budgetary skills
- Organizational skills
Major challenge of leadership is to cope with change. Leaders must:
- Demonstrate vision
- Motivate people
- Empower people to accomplice what is necessary to achieve the vision.
There are several theories, which consider tow hat extent each is describing good management vs.
1. Likert’s four systems
This theory suggest that there are 4 distinct leadership systems within an organization.
System 1 „‟Tells „‟ Exploitative authoritative system
- Leaders motivate employees through threats and fear appeals.
- Communication is downward, from upper management down.
- Decision making made at upper levels
- Tells style leaders tells employees what to do.
- Workers are often hostile toward organizational goals and mat actively behave contrary to this
- Satisfaction and productivity are not high.
- High level of employee turnover.
System 2 “Sells” benevolent authoritative system
Classical thinking about organizations.
- Leaders tends to be less controlling
- Communication is still downwards
- Lower level employees may make decisions, but only using the mechanism prescribed by
- Leaders tend to sell their point of view rather than telling employees what to do
- Motivation is achieved both through rewards and punishments
- Satisfaction and turnover tend to be slightly better than in system one
- Productivity is fair to good.
System 3 “Consults” consultative system
- Leaders use rewards to motivate workers
- Leadership is characterized by involving lower level employees in some decision making and
- Leaders set goals after having discussed problems and plans with their subordinates
- Communication moves both upwards and downwards.
- Productivity, satisfaction and employees turnover rates are good.
System 4 “Joins” participative system
- All employees are encouraged to interact with each others
- Although a hierarchy may exist, all organizational members are respected and have a say in
how the corporation operates
- Leads to the highest productivity and satisfaction and the least employee turnover.
2. Transformational leadership
Bass(1997) argued that the global economy has shifted the type of leadership needed in current
organizations. This theory is about the contrast between two leadership styles, transactional and
transformational, arguing that, although both can assist organizations in achieving goals,
transformational leadership is superior for today‟s businesses. Both leaderships are effective, but
transformational leadership is associated with higher personal and organizational outcomes.
Seek to achieve solid, consistent performance from subordinates. A transactional leader is responsive
to employees and is clear and structured in terms of expectations. There are 3 primary characteristics
of transactional leaders:
1. Work with subordinates to develop clears and specific objectives and promise rewards if these
objectives are met.
2. Exchange rewards and promises of rewards for employee effort
3. These leaders are responsive to the immediate self-interests of workers, particularly if the
workers‟ needs can be met while also getting the job done.
Transformational leadership is founded on particular attitudes and behaviors that support
organizational change. These leaders seek to inspire exceptional performance. At the center of
transformational leadership is the ability to use subordinates‟ ideas and actions as a catalyst for
transformation – moving ideas and actions toward the greater good of the organization.
There are 4 facets of transformational leadership:
1. Idealized influence efforts to establish positive attitudes among employees towards each
other and toward the work itself. Idealized influence involves taking risks, establishing trust.
The leader models ideal behavior for employees.
2. Inspirational motivation requires leaders to present employees with a clear vision and a
desirable future. Followers are motivated by the attainment of this vision and receive
encouragement and support for doing so.
3. Intellectual stimulation challenge their own assumptions and encourage new approaches.
Differences of opinion are addressed openly and without fear.
4. Individualized consideration the leader considers each individual‟s needs and abilities, while
supporting development and mentoring efforts.
Both types of leadership are associated with achievement of organizational goals. Transactional
leadership is rules based, competitive and regulation driven, it lacks flexibility. The transactional
system provides little incentive to change unless the change benefits the individual directly.
Emotional intelligence refers to a set of beliefs and skills that facilitate organizational performance.
There are several components of EQ at work:
Component Definition Qualities
Self-awareness The ability to recognize and understand your - Self confidence
moods, emotions and drives, as well as their - Self depreciation
effects on others
Self-regulation The ability to control or redirect disruptive - Comfort with ambiguity
impulses and moods; the propensity to think - Openness to change
Motivation A passion for work for reasons beyond money or - Optimism
status - Commitment
Empathy The ability to understand the emotional makeup - Cultural sensitivity
of others; skill in treating people based on their - People centeredness
Social skills Proficiency in managing relationships and - Persuasiveness
building network - Belief in cooperation
3. Contingency model
This model suggest that leaders should adapt their behavior to situational constraints. Fiedler(1967)
recognized 2 distinct approaches of leadership.
Task leader focuses primarily on accomplishing particular organizational goals. This leadership is
associated with productivity.
Relationship leader emphasizes positive relations between all members of the group. These leaders
are more concerned with satisfaction than achievement, focusing on maintaining group harmony.
Leader-member relations refers to the degree of trust and support followers provide to the leader.
If the relation is good, the leader can expect members to comply with directions.
Task structure has 4 dimensions:
- Clarity of group‟s goals
- Path multiplicity, number of potential courses of action available to the group
- Effect verifiability, the extent to which the effects of decisions are clear
- Specificity of decisions to be made.
In overall, there are 4 combinations in the contingency model:
- Leader-member relation either good or poor
- Task structure either structured or unstructured
- Formal leader-position power either strong or weak
- Leadership either task, relation or both.
Look on page 144 of the book to see the combinations of the different styles.
4. Leader-member exchange
This theory was developed in response to the majority of traditional leadership models that typically
focused on leadership traits (enduring qualities that make a good leader) and leadership states
(particular styles that can be developed by leaders to match particular situations). This theory sggest
that leaders actually treat each of their subordinates differently. However, the theory recognizes that
leadership consist of an interpersonal relationship between a superior and a subordinate and that not
all relationships are created equally.
Leader member exchange in-group relationships. Characterized by mutual trust, social support and
liking. There is much more interaction between organizational members.
Supervisory exchange out-group relationships. Impersonal in nature, with little superior-
subordinate interaction taking place.
Middle-group relationship interaction is often impersonal, but there are occasional provisions of
Chapter 7 Explaining theories of group communication
Group = a system of three or more individuals who are focused on achieving a common purpose and
who influence and are influenced by each other.
There are 4 theories of group communication discussed in this chapter.
1. Interaction process analysis (symlog)
This theory was developed to explain patterns of group discussion, particularly in terms of leadership.
There are 2 goals seek to be achieved by groups:
- Task goals productivity
- Maintenance goals evidence by cohesion
Bales proposed a method for analyzing the functions of group communication. There are 12
categories, but they are divided into 4 main parts:
- Positive and mixed actions
- Attempted answers
- Negative and mixed answers
The 1st and 4th refer to socioemotional behavior. The 2nd and 3rd refer to task behaviors. The theory
suggest that a team might have 2 leaders, a socioemotional and a task leader.
Symlog = technique focusing on the same variables indentified as important in the interaction process
analysis. All group members evaluate themselves and all other members of the group on either their
values or heir behaviors to understand the group better, improved productivity or increase
satisfaction. This evaluation centers on three dimensions:
- Forward – backward accepting or rejecting authority.
- Positive – negative friendly vs. unfriendly behavior
- Upward – downward dominance vs. submissive.
In sum, ales presented a theory grounded in his own research about the nature of communication in
2. Symbolic convergence theory
This theory was developed within the traditions of small group communication and has been
developed. The theory focuses on 2 aspects of group communication: the creation of a group identity
and the ways that group identity influence norms for behavior.
1. Fantasy theme
According to this theory, fantasy does not refer to something that is desired or something that is
fictional; rather, it refers to a creative understanding of events that fulfills a psychological or rhetorical
The fantasy theme starts with a dramatizing message – a joke, pun, figure of speech, metaphor.
These messages do not refer to present happening, instead they reference events that have
happened in the past or that are anticipated to the future.
Fantasy chain – when the fantasy theme is developed through group interaction and enters group
consciousness. Building fantasy chains results in group cohesion.
Symbolic convergence = the emergence of a fantasy chain transforms the group from a collection of
individuals to an identifiable group with a group consciousness. In this way, group identity can be
Rhetorical vision = a unified way of viewing the world.
3. Functional group decision making
Function = refers to what communication does. An apology serves the function of relationship repair.
What does the communication within a group? Why do some groups make good decisions while other
make bad ones?
There are 4 functions of decision making:
Function Means of achievement
Problem analysis Focus on the nature, extent and causes of the
Goal setting Identify what an ideal solution would look like
Identifying alternatives Generate a large number of possible solutions
Evaluate and select Evaluate each alternative using the established
This theory states that all four functions need to be accomplished to maximize the likelihood of an
effective decision and that no one function is more important than another.
The authors set 3 types of communication within small groups:
- Promotive discussion communication geared toward one of the requisite functions.
- Disruptive communication diverts, retards or frustrates the ability of the group to achieve
the requisite functions.
- Counteractive communication the message that return a disrupted group back to the
requisite functions, is likely to be most important for group decision making.
Groupthink is a dysfunctional way of deliberating that group members use when their desire for
unanimity overrides their motivation to assess all available plans of actions. Groupthink was designed
to explain and predict how bad decisions are made by groups.
There are 3 antecedent conditions to groupthink. These preexisting conditions make it more likely that
groupthink will occur.
1. Cohesion the degree of connection between group members, or a sense of solidarity. A
high degree of cohesion is necessary for groupthink to occur.
2. Structural flaws problems with the way a group is organized.
a. Group insulation the group is somehow isolated from the larger world.
b. Biased leadership if the leader has his mind made up or has a personal stake in the
decision, the group might defer to the leader simply because of the power differential,
regardless of whether the leader‟s solution is good.
c. Lack of procedural norms not having a process in place for how to make a decision
can happen either because the group has not taken the time to create the process or
because the group fails to follow the process.
d. Homogeneity similarity, the group members are very similar to each other.
3. Situational characteristics group think might occur in times of high stress or time pressure.
However, there are also symptoms involved in the whole process:
1. Overestimation of the group
a. Illusion of invulnerability the group will not fail
b. Inherent morality of the group the group is good, so the decisions are too.
a. Stereotyping out-groups
b. Collective rationalizations tend to justify their decision by talking themselves into it.
3. Pressures toward uniformity
a. Self-censorship tend to keep their mouths shut when experiencing doubts
b. Illusion of unanimity group members perceive that consensus has been reached,
even if it really hasn‟t.
c. Self-appointed mind guards not to present any contrary information, even if then
know it exists.
d. Pressure on dissenters challenges to the group are squashed.
Chapter 8 Explaining theories of organizational communication
Organization= a group of people who coordinate activities to achieve individual and collective goals.
Communication within organizations typically serves three functions or purposes:
- Relationship the centrality of communication in socializing organizational members and
integrating them into their work environment
- Organizing communication guides, directs and controls organizational activity
- Change organizational members analyzes, problem-solve, adapt and innovate.
There are 4 theories involving organizational communication.
1. Organizational identification and control
This theory centers on the way that an individual‟s connection to the organization influences behavior
and decision making in team-based structures. There are 3 main concept:
An organization needs control to get things done. There are 3 methods to get and gain control within
Simple control direct, authoritarian control. This method is analogous to Likert‟s system 1 and
sytem 2 forms of management. It is the classic way of controlling employees.
Technological control the use of technology to manage what can and can‟t be done in the work
place. An example is in a factory. Employees must take the exact orders, otherwise the whole process
will go wrong.
Bureaucratic control modern organizations are served best by a hierarchical system of rules, with
rewards and punishments drawn from those rules.
Unobtrusive control based on shared values within the organization. When organizational members
make decisions based on the mission and vision of the organization, they do so because they believe
in those values.
Concertive control interpersonal relationships and teamwork.
Refers to the sense of oneness with or belongingness to an organization. When individuals experience
identification, they define themselves in terms of the organization.
Discipline is achieve through a sense of responsibility to the work group because member identify
within their organization and because they share common values and a vision for the organization.
2. Organizational culture
Culture refers to a pattern of shared assumptions that have been invented, discovered or developed
by a given group and are taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and behave.
There are 3 levels of culture, artifact, values and assumptions.
Artifacts refer to the observable evidence of culture. In table 8.2 on page 179 of the book you can see
examples of the different artifacts and examples of those artifacts. One example is technology, and
type of phone system used, computer systems used are examples of artifacts within an organization.
Preferences about how situations should be handle. These preferences represent shared beliefs about
how things ought to happen. Leadership is, the ability to shape members‟ perceptions of the taks and
the mission of the organization.
Basic assumptions refer to the viewpoints organizational members hold about the world, including
perceptions, thought, feelings and beliefs.
3. Structuration theory
This theory explains organizational communication processes. Structures serve 5 primary functions in
- They provide a means for coordination and control
- They assist members in defining their identities within the organization
- They help the organization to relate to its environment
- They provide a means to monitor member performance
- They serve a symbolic function
There are 2 major assumptions of structuration theory.
1. Humans are actors who make choices in their behavior. Also called agency. People have free will in
terms of their communicative behavior.
2. organizations are produced and reproduces through structures in interaction.
Structure = a set of rules and resources used by an organization in order to meet its goals.
Rule = how an organization should accomplish its goals.
Resources = the properties that organizational members rely on to get things done. There are 2
types: Allocative resources ( material forms of assistance, time / money) and authoritative resources
( interpersonal characteristics of organizational members, such as cohesion, experience and status.
Influences on structure
- Structures are often borrowed from larger groups. A group may borrow from the structures of
a larger group, such as an organizational culture.
- All social interactions included elements of communication, morality and power.
o Communication -> organizational members operate within a given set of meanings or
understandings. Their language choices are important.
o Morality organizational norms about what is and what is not acceptable behavior
affect the agency or actions of members.
o Power implicit power structures affect the interactional choices made by
Applications of structuration
There are some practical implications of structurations. These can been seen in table 8.3 on page 187.
Organizational climate what it feels like to be in a particular organization. An organization can be
described as stressful, friendly or formal. Climate is a structure of an organization, it is produced and
reproduced by organizational members.
4. Organizing theory
This theory is stating that communication is the organization. Weick argued that communication is
what constitutes an organization. This theory is concerned with the massive amount of information
that organizations have available to them.
Equivocality = the ambiguity of information available to organizations. There may be multiple
understandings of the information. Individuals must decide which of the multiple interpretations is the
best fit. A way to reduce equivocality is to rely on rules. However, rules don‟t always work and there
isn‟t a rule for every situation.
Another way to reduce equivocality is: double interacts. These interacts are suited for instances of
high equivocality because they require organizational members to develop interdependent
relationships in the process of communication. A double interact consist of an act, response and
Act a communication behavior initiated by one person or group of people.
Response the receivers of the message communicate in return. This 2 way exchange of message is
the one most typically used to understand the communication process.
Adjustment communication requires a third step, adjustment to the information that was originally
received. It might be a confirmation that the information has been understood.
Sociocultural evolution for organizations
1. Enactment occurs when members of an organization take not equivocal information in
their information environment.
2. Selection members must choose how to response.
3. Retention a form of organizational memory. What was done and how it was done is stored
so that organizational members can refer to it again.
Chapter 9 Explaining theories of mediated communication
Mediated communication = any communication in which something exist between the source and
receiver. This something can be technology, which is the case when talking about the media, but can
also refer to other things.
Mass communication = mediated communication between a source and a large audience that is often
unknown by the source. The notion of unknown is important, message senders don‟t necessarily know
their audiences‟ motivations and so on. The opportunity for audience members to provide feedback to
the source is limited and slow.
1. Agenda setting theory
News media present audience with an agenda for what events the public should consider as
important. There are several assumptions, but there are 2 key assumptions in this theory.
The news media have an agenda. The new media tell audiences what news to consider as important.
The media‟s agenda is viewed as somewhat limited.
Most people would like help when trying to understand and evaluated politics and political reality.
Because people need assistance with determining their political viewpoints, audience members come
to rely on new media to point out topics of importance.
There are 2 primary criteria for measuring the media‟s agenda: length and position of a new story.
Framing the news
The media are believed to frame news events, news media gatekeepers the handful of new editors
who set the agenda, also select, emphasize, elaborate and exclude news stories or parts of new
stories to create a certain effect for the audience.
Individuals have differing needs for exernal advice or directions need for orientation.
2. Cultivation theory
The cultivation theory almost only emphasizes on one medium: television. There are several
assumptions in the cultivation theory:
- Television has become central to American life and culture.
- Television influences audience perceptions of social reality
- Television‟s effects are limited, TV is not the only factor that affects an individual‟s view of
Violence = overt expression of physical force ( with or without weapon, against self or others)
compelling action against one‟s will on pain of being hurt and/or killed or threatened to be so
victimized as part of the plot.
There was an violence index created, an objective research instrument that uses content analysis to
measure the prevalence, frequency and role of characters that are involved in TV violence.
Violent TV doesn‟t affect everyone; cultivation theory predicts that individuals‟ social attitudes grown
more pessimistic as their TV viewing increases. The more TV you watch, the more likely you are to
view the world with suspicion and believe that danger lurks around every corner.
Mean world syndrome = pessimistic television types suffer from this syndrome. Televised reality
doesn‟t match actual reality and heavy viewers are partially influence dby television reality, whereas
light viewers are not.
Mainstreaming = viewer, heavy viewers in particular, develop a common view of social reality based
on their frequent exposure to the repetitive and dominating images, stories and messages depicted on
television .These types are likely to perceive the world in ways that parallel TV‟s theatrical portrayal of
Resonance = involves congruency between viewers own violent experiences and that which they see
on TV. When individuals who have actually faced acts of violence in their own lives then watch violent
television programming, they are forced to replay their own life situation again and again.
3. Social learning theory
This theory states that people learn and use aggression as a result of viewing violent media. Watching
violent behavior on TV means viewers learn that aggression is a successful means of solving
problems, in turn, these viewers may become more prone to act aggressively.
Modeling = from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are preformed, and on
later occasion, this coded information serves as a guide for action.
There are 4 stages in the social learning process:
- Attention determined by both the observers‟ characteristics and the arrangement of
- Retention learning by observing. Humans can learn within actually engaging in a particular
behavior if they can visually and verbally store the images to which they have attended.
- Reproduction individuals can execute a fairly accurate demonstration of a new behavior
- Motivation to go from observation to action requires the ability to replicate the behavior as
well as the desire or motivation to use the learned action.
4. Uses and gratifications theory
This theory focuses on why a person uses the media. Individuals will make specific decisions about
which media to use and when to use them.
There are 3 primary assumption for this theory:
- Media use is active and goal driven, based on individuals needs.
- A person must identify his or her need and make a media choice.
- Media outlets compete with other available means of satisfying personal needs.
There are 4 common reasons that humans use the mass media:
3. Personal identity reading the Vogue, so you know what to wear
4. Personal relationships and social interaction listening to the Sports radio on your drive to
work, so you can talk about it with your coworkers.