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Uncertainty Reduction Theory
Transcript of Uncertainty Reduction Theory
Eight Axioms (5-8):
5.) High Levels Uncertainty Produce (High/Low) Rates of
(Reduce/Increase) Uncertainty, while Dissimilarities (Reduce/Increase) Uncertainty.
7.) Increases in Uncertainty Level Produce (Increases/Decreases) in
and vice versa.
(Increase/Reduce) Uncertainty, while a Lack of a Shared Network (Increases/Decreases) Uncertainty.
Charles (Chuck) Berger
Professor of Communication, University of California, Davis
"The beginnings of personal relationships are fraught with uncertainty."
Why Want to Reduce?
Anticipation of future
Explain and Predict
What is the opposite of uncertainty?
Draws from Fritz Heider (Attribution theory)
Two kinds of uncertainty: (1)
(acceptable procedural protocols)
(2): who is the other person?
Eight Axioms (1-4):
Increases, Uncertainty (Increases/Decreases)
/Expressiveness Increases, Uncertainty (Increases/Decreases) and vice versa.
3.) High Levels of Uncertainty (Increases/Decreases)
4.) High Levels of Uncertainty Cause (High/Low) Levels of
Berger combines multiple pairs
of his axioms to create
Example: If uncertainty reduction increases reciprocity (5), and increases information seeking (3), then high levels of reciprocity produce high levels of information seeking and vice versa (Theorem 16, Figure 10-1)
All together, create a detailed theory of interpersonal development.
Cognitive Uncertainty Reduction
10 years later...
From cognitive uncertainty ---> Why do we produce certain messages? Social interaction is
: we continually construct cognitive/interactional plans (action sequences) to achieve goals.
Hierarchially organized; abstract at top, concrete as you work your way down to bottom.
Even if you are intelligent/cognitively complex. you may not accomplish your goal/plan outcome.
The probability of perfect communication is zero
Berger merges the two works (uncertainty reduction and message plans).
How do individuals cope with uncertainties they face when constructing plans? How can they deploy a message w/out risks?
Inform roommate you're moving out (detach)
Use consistent tone in voice
sharp hand gestures
Seek Information + Attached Social Costs
: observing; surveillance (back stage)
: Ask third parties/indirect questioning (biased view filtered); trial by fire; testing limits
: Direct, face-to-face questioning; can offer self-disclosure
when attempt to achieve goal is thwarted, alter lower-levels
: Use ambiguity and humor
to save face when message fails
Anxiety/Uncertainty Management (AUM) Theory
, University of California, Fullerton
Took URT into the context of intercultural settings (assumed at least one person is a stranger).
Series of crises, undergo anxiety/uncertainty; hyperaware of differences, overestimate identity
: Axioms format; focus on stranger interactions
1)Uncertainty (cognitive) +
(affective): uneasy, tense, worried, apprehensive
2) End goal=
(received = intended) vs. relational satisfaction/closeness
4) Lower and upper thresholds for fear and doubt
consciously think about our communication and changing to be more effective.
Determinism ---> Free Will
Motivation to Interact
Categorization of Strangers
Attitude towards Stranger
Closeness with Stranger
Prototype of objective theory (has simplicity, straightforward, testable hypotheses, etc)
Buuuut: predictability and theorem 17 (like more= info seek less). Breaks tight, logical structure.
of info promotes uncertainty reduction (or is it
Others have also doubted info seeking relevance to future interaction, incentive value, or deviance
Finally: Debate over primary goal of 1st interaction (relational outcome or who s/he is?)