Communication Accommodation Theory

Communication Accommodation Theory - Communication...

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Communication Accommodation Theory Devyn McNichol Manya Maier The Communication Accommodation Theory was developed by Howard Giles in 1973. This objective theory helps explain the way people adjust their typical way of communication to be similar to that of another person to whom they are communicating with. By changing nonverbal and verbal communication tendencies, people seek to gain approval of the person they are communicating with. This theory helps us understand why we adjust our speaking styles depending on whom we are speaking with. Speech accommodation allows us to receive appreciation by people of other ethnic groups or cultures. It is appropriate to think of Communication Accommodation as the act of “fitting in” communicatively. The practice of gaining approval by modifying our usual way of speech, to fit that of someone with a different manner of speech, is the basic premise of the Communication Accommodation Theory. In the text, “A First Look at Communication Theory,” by Griffin (2009), accommodation is noted as “the constant movement toward or away from others by changing your communicative behavior” (p.388). Convergence and divergence are the opposite approaches people take by either accommodating or differentiating their communication style to the person they are communicating with. Giles (1973) has compared the two polar ends of convergence and divergence by stating that convergence is “a strategy of adapting your communication behavior in such a way as to become more similar to another person” (p.389). On the other hand, divergence is “a communication strategy of accentuating the differences between yourself and another person”(p.389). The reason people choose to use divergent strategies has to do with their social identity, meaning the groups that people affiliate themselves with. When individuals identify with a certain group, and communicate with an individual representative of another group, divergence
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methods would be used in order to show distinctiveness. A norm is an expectation of what should or should not occur an in a conversation. Norms can help people to figure out if they will accept someone as a part of their group. Whether or not the communicators fit each other’s norms may affect whether they use convergence or divergence when communicating. In a study titled “The Role of Speech Accommodation and Crime Type in the Attribution of Guilt” by Dixon, Tredoux, Durrheim, and Foster (1994), attribution of guilt was being measured through the function of speech accommodation and crime type. The participants consisted of a group of 129 undergraduates from South Africa whose first language was English but also were fluent in Afrikaans. The participants listened to tapes of suspects pleading innocence for a crime. The suspects either converged, meaning they talked only in English, partially diverged, by talking mainly in English but switching to Afrikaans language, or completely diverged, by talking only in Afrikaans. The independent variables include the type of
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Communication Accommodation Theory - Communication...

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