WEEK 3 DISCUSSION.
Respond: Symbolic Interaction Theory (Req'd.)
Let's spend some time considering Symbolic Interaction Theory. One idea that may seem either obvious or obscure has to do with the creation of "meaning." ?Who creates "meaning?" ?Humans do, but sometimes we believe that our creations of meaning have an intrinsic value.
Think about the word "cake." It is closely related to our ideas of a dessert with layers of baked product mixed with layers of a butter/sugar mixture (icing). When you read the word "cake" here, did it conjure up an image of a sheet cake for you, or ?a double or triple layer cake? Maybe you saw in your mind's eye a chocolate cake, a carrot cake, or a coconut-covered cake. Perhaps you saw candles? Now, consider this clip from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding":?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPvO53JHnmY
In Social Interaction Theory,?our notions of "cake" come from our personal experiences and what we think we imagine other people (society) think about when the word "cake" is mentioned. Indeed, if I say "gloop" to mean "cake," no one will know what I am talking about! So, we create a shared meaning for the word "cake" that is both a mixture in my mind of my personal experiences of cake and what the social meaning of "cake" is -- as I understand it from communicating with others.
This lesson from a TEDx presentation sums up how this shared understanding of symbols creates meaning for a community of people:?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2lzgNmsDQg
You can see the complexity of that shared meaning in language?from?this RadioLab video called "Words" by NPR:?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2lzgNmsDQg
We want to keep in mind that the symbolic sound and written squiggles we've assigned to "cake" are also completely arbitrary -- over the years, we English-speaking humans have a generally-agreed-upon sense of the meaning of that sound and those written squiggles! In French, they've decided that the word cake should be written as "gateau" and should be pronounced "gah-tow." However, our friends in Spain assure us that the sound "gah-tow" means "cat" (gato). The word "cake" means nothing to them.
By now, you are beginning to understand how arbitrary meaning is! Just to add to the confusion, think of the word "caked" as in The horse's legs were caked with mud. How did we English-speaking humans come up with that secondary meaning of the word "cake"? Why does one mean "dessert" and one means "coated" or "covered with?" Which meaning do you think came first?
Consider the three assumptions on how the "Self"?is constructed through a process of interactions with others. Indeed, much of what we think about ourselves as individuals comes from how people treat us and reflect back to us what kind of person they think we are.
Before you tackle this?exercise, please make sure you have read the materials at all of the links in this discussion question.
Then, please take a look at this short clip from the movie "You've Got Mail:"
Some questions for you:
The two characters, Joe and Kathleen, are friends on the Internet, but only Joe realizes as the scene opens that his online friend is his opponent in the "real" world. As you watch this clip, look for physical symbols that the two main characters respond to -- what different meanings do they give to a rose and the book Pride and Prejudice?
- What does Kathleen imagine Joe thinks about her? Why does she not like Joe?
- What is Kathleen's self-concept? How does it change in this interaction with Joe?
- What is Joe's self-concept?? How does it change in this interaction with Kathleen? How do you know, or think you know, that his self-concept has changed?
- Finally, what do you find most useful about Social Interactionism?? Does it support the notion that people can shape their own lives through how they communicate to themselves and to others?
Please write a cogent, coherent response; make sure to support your remarks with researched evidence. Do not hesitate to add to our knowledge by sharing the links to any authoritative resources on this topic that you may discover on the Internet.?Then, swap observations with your classmates by the end of the week!?
Have fun with this!
Cognitive Dissonance Theory (Req'd.)
Cognitive dissonance refers to the feelings of discomfort we tend to have when confronted with conflicting beliefs, ideas, or values. We tend to seek consistency between our expectations and our reality. Leon Festinger's (1957) Cognitive Dissonance Theory?says that when individuals become psychologically uncomfortable, they will seek to reduce their dissonance, as well as actively avoid situations and information that might cause or increase dissonance. This?video explains how cognitive dissonance was studied in 1959 and what researchers inferred from its findings:?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gN-6nBs7sbI
A related study, ?Obedience,? by Yale University psychology professor Stanley Milgram in 1962 looked at people?s willingness to obey authority figures. The study was inspired by the Nuremberg Trials where many Nazis justified their immoral actions by saying that they were just following orders.? Milgram wanted to understand why people will physically hurt other people if told to do so by an authority figure. Here?s a 5-minute introduction with actual footage from the study.? I do want to warn you that there are a few scenes of the Nazi extermination camps at the start of the clip:?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOYLCy5PVgM
Here are the findings from Milgram's study,?which showed that only?35%?of the people refused at some point to give people painful and even life threatening electric jolts when told to do so by a person claiming to be the study director (and wearing a white lab coat!).? Instead, 26 out of 40 test subjects were willing to give life threatening electric jolts to people when told to do so. The study was replicated with similar results around 2009 in Great Britain. Getting permission to do these kinds of studies is virtually impossible because of the mental anguish incurred in the participants who are asked to be ?teachers? and to administer the jolts.?
Communication research from the Asch studies, the Festinger Cognitive Dissonance research, and the Milgram studies indicate that humans have strong mental structures that dictate attitudes and behaviors. Even when people experienced ?cognitive dissonance? through immoral commands to hurt another person, they could still justify this behavior if they gave up responsibility for their personal behavior by giving that responsibility to an authority figure.
As you read the about this theory in our course materials, think about the "intrapersonal" dialogue that goes on when we feel an internal conflict. (Intrapersonal communication is the internal dialogue we have inside our own minds.)? Indeed, we so dislike psychological discomfort or a sense of inconsistency between our values and our actions that we actively seek to NOT feel cognitive dissonance.?
Because of their internal discomfort, people who experience cognitive dissonance are relatively easier to motivate to behave a particular way.? They are looking for ways to reduce their internal discomfort. The four assumptions of CDT are pretty clear, so spend a little time absorbing the ideas about "magnitude of dissonance," "coping with dissonance," and "minimal justification."?
Once you have reviewed the video clips and completed all the readings linked to this discussion prompt, please address?the following:
1.? An important aspect of this theory is how it applies to the way we "manage" our perceptions through selection.? Can you think of ways that you look for information that is consistent with your values and world view?
2. ?What makes CDT difficult to test is not that it can be proved, but that it is difficult to disprove.? Why does that happen when researchers look at CDT?? What is it hard to disprove the theory?? Can you think of a test that you could perform that would yield more definitive results?
3. ?How could you relate Cognitive Dissonance Theory to hegemony theory, as it is presented in the Encyclopedia of Communication Theory's discussions of Cultural Studies. In other words, can Cognitive Dissonance Theory be applied to larger social/political theories?
Please write a cogent, coherent response; make sure to support your remarks with researched evidence. Do not hesitate to add to our knowledge by sharing the links to any authoritative resources on this topic that you may discover on the Internet.?Then, swap observations with your classmates by the end of the week!
Respond: Expectancy Violations Theory (Req'd.)
? As with many communication theories, Expectancy Violations Theory?is premised on an idea that may prompt a reader to think "Well, I knew that already!" However, there are some twists in the theory you may find interesting. Here is its author, Judee Burgoon, explaining the theory:?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kmnZIxiYHk
The heart of this theory is its notion of expectancies?-- the cognitions and behaviors anticipated and prescribed in a conversation with another person. Expectancies include individuals' nonverbal and verbal behavior.?
Make a point of learning the definitions for the terms proxemics?and haptics, which have to do with the nonverbal behaviors (use of space and use of touch) that we're most comfortable with. For instance, there are?different kinds of spatial distances that North Americans expect for different kinds of communication:
- Intimate distance ranges from actual touching to 18 inches
- Personal distance: This is your personal ?bubble? and it ranges from 18 inches to 4 feet. You most likely conduct most of your interpersonal interactions at this distance, i.e., talking to family and friends.
- Social distance is more impersonal ? there?s less visual detail in the interaction. It ranges from 4 feet to 12 feet.
- The so-called public?distance is one in which defensive action becomes more possible. It ranges from 12 feet to more than 25 feet.
Please watch this "Seinfeld" clip:?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGVSIkEi3mM
Once you have reviewed the video, respond to this discussion prompt by explaining the scene in terms of our theory, then muse aloud on at least one of these activities. Please do not tackle either of these exercises until you have read the materials at all of the links in this discussion prompt.?
Why is it possible for some people to breach another person's expectancy norms and yet come across in a positive light? Think about the physical space violations.? What term is given to people who can break these norms?
Reflect upon a time when you felt as if someone had violated your space in a way that made you feel uncomfortable, at least at first.? Did that person repeat this behavior more than once?? Did you give that person verbal or nonverbal signals that the ?closeness? violated your expectancies? In other words, how did you use communication to handle this "violation"?
Synthesize your ideas into a cogent, coherent response; make sure to support your comments with researched evidence. Do not hesitate to add to our knowledge by sharing the links to any authoritative resources on this topic that you may discover on the Internet.?Then, swap observations with your classmates by the end of the week!
Week 3?Assignment: Communication Theory Annotated Bibliography ~ Due Thursday, Week 3.
??For this assignment, you will select and investigate a communication theory and create an annotated bibliography that conforms to American Psychological Association format and style requirements.
1. Choose a communication theory from the following:
- Any group or organizational comm theory?EXCEPT Groupthink
- Cultural Studies, Cultivation Analysis, Spiral of Silence and Media Ecology theories but?NOT?Uses and Gratifications
- Any of the Culture and Diversity theories
- Any of the Relationship Development theories?
2. Click on Resources > Library in our classroom navigation bar or go to the UMUC Library at?http://www.umuc.edu/library/library.html.?
3. Click on Resources in the toolbar to the left of the library portal screen, then click on Subject Guides. Find the subject area that is most closely related to your major or your planned career in the list. Click on it and familiarize yourself with the materials available in your field of study or planned line of work. ??
4. Click on the button for databases in the Subject Guide.?
5. Using one or more of the databases for your field of study or planned line of work, search for peer-reviewed journal articles about the communication theory or by the name of the person you selected to see if communication research on that theory has been applied to your area.?You may also want to limit the search by using other keywords for your specific area of study or career interest.?
6. Report the subject area.?
7. Report the database(s) used for your search.?
8. Report the key-words you used in your searches.
9. Write an introductory paragraph (~250-300 words) describing the reasons you chose that theory or researcher in the context of the following question:
How can an understanding of Communication Theory supplement your skills and the insights you will need to succeed in your future work???
10. Select?three?articles from the databases in your field of study or career interest that support your thesis in response to the question posed in Step 9.??
11. Write an annotated bibliography for the three articles that best support your thesis.?If you are unfamiliar with an annotated bibliography, click on Resources > Effective Writing Center in the classroom navigation bar to learn about them from our writing center, or go to the?Purdue OWL. You need to write a complete APA citation for each article. Then write a summary of at least 150 words for each article that includes an explanation of how the article supports your thesis. Make sure each summary or ?annotation? includes a specific quote that illuminates what you learned from the article.
12. Please be sure to write carefully and well, using good grammar and APA-style in-text citations for quotes, summaries and paraphrases.?
A sample annotated bibliography for this assignment is attached. Yours is due in the assignments area of the classroom by?11:59 p.m. ?ET Thursday,?Week 3.?(Worth 15% of your grade.)?You can submit it through the link below or directly to your assignment folder through the Assignments link in the blue navbar above.
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