Communication 203 Paper 1

Communication 203 Paper 1 - Social 1 Social Penetration...

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Social 1 Social Penetration Theory suggests that when two people meet, they will progress in a “gradual and orderly fashion from superficial to intimate levels of exchange as a function of both immediate and forecast outcomes” (Griffin, 119). Altman and Taylor’s idea of the Multilayered Onion helps to paint a picture of how social penetration occurs. As if a wedge is being pulled into the center of the onion, one must cut into the outer layers first, to get to the more securely wrapped inner ones. The surface, consist of easily discussed biographical information. The outer layers can contain information about preferences for a variety of topics, such as tastes in music and favorite foods. The inner core of the onion represents an individual’s self-concept, values, unresolved conflicts, and true emotions. Self-disclosure is the best way to get through the layers of the onion. The greater the degree of personal disclosure, the more in-depth the penetration becomes. Once a person has self-disclosed deep information, the onion is cut and can be easily reopened. After self-disclosing a certain topic, future privacy about that topic will be hard to obtain. The depth and breadth are both imperative to the social penetration process. The depth of the penetration represents the amount of intimacy in the relationship. The breadth symbolizes various topics of a person’s life. The range of topics can include a person’s worldview, beliefs about dating, political views and so forth. A true representation of intimacy includes both depth and breadth of self-disclosure. During the Social Penetration process, peripheral items are usually conversed quickly and regularly. In the early stages of any kind of relationship, self-disclosure needs to be reciprocal. As relationships develop the penetration process slows down, endangering the closeness of the dyad. If the sharing discontinues, gradual de-penetration will occur. De- penetration takes place when people hold back previously discussed topics. Usually, relationships slowly come to an
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Social 2 end during the de-penetration process. Sharing one’s emotions comfortably with another is a way to maintain a meaningful relationship. The closeness in the relationship is regulated by “the cost-benefit analysis that each man performs as he considers the possibility of a closer relationship” (Griffin, 122). The social penetration process will occur if the benefits for both individuals outweigh the cost of greater vulnerability. Although many benefits can arise from self-disclosing, there can also be a great cost from self-disclosing. Altman and Taylor use the principles of the social exchange theory originally derived form John Thibaut and Harold Kelley, to predict when people will risk self-
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Communication 203 Paper 1 - Social 1 Social Penetration...

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