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Social Penetration Theory

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Samantha Nolen

on 3 December 2014

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Transcript of Social Penetration Theory

Altman is currently a professor of psychology at the University of Utah.
B.A. - New York University
M.A. and Ph.D. - University of Maryland

Taylor passed away in 1998.
Before his passing, he was provost and professor of psychology at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
Social Penetration Theory
Developed by Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor in 1973
Social Penetration is the process of developing deeper intimacy with another person through mutual self disclosure and other forms of vulnerability.
"People are like Onions"
Depth and Breadth of Penetration
The degree and range of disclosure in specific areas of an individuals life
Summary of self disclosure:
“Interpersonal closeness proceeds in a gradual and orderly
fashion from superficial to intimate levels of exchange, motivated by current and projected future outcomes. Lasting intimacy requires continual and mutual vulnerability through breadth and depth of self disclosure”
Brought to you by Samantha, Taylor and Natalie
The Social Penetration Theory
Explains how relational closeness develops
Objective (scientific) Lens
What is SPT?
The Theorists
Together they published "Social Penetration: The Development of Interpersonal Relationships"
Socio-Psychological Tradition (looks at cause and effect relationships)
Self Disclosure can predict intimacy of relationships
Layers of self disclosure
Outer layer - Public
Semiprivate Attitudes
Deeper Layers - invisible to the world
Verbal and nonverbal self disclosure
The Wedge
Once the wedge has been cut,
it leaves a permanent passage
Self–disclosure is reciprocal
Penetration is rapid at first but slows down quickly as you reach the inner layers.
Peripheral items are exchanged more
frequently & sooner than private information
Depenetration is a gradual process of layer-by-layer withdrawal.
Depth and breadth are equally important
Social Exchange
the perceived rewards and cost in a relationship that determines vulnerability
John Thibaut and Harold Kelley
Outcome > Comparison Level Alternatives > Comparison Level
Altman's Dialectical Model
1975- Altman suggests relationships are characterized by openness or contact and closedness and separateness
He suggest environment is a factor in social penetration
Dorm Living Study
at The University of
Need for territory = Layer of self disclosure
Disclosure includes cognitive space and physical space
Student who displayed this need are more likely to remain at university than those who do not
Critiques of SPT
Sandra Petronio argues SPT is too simplistic
She believes privacy boundaries can vary, change, and are frequently permeable.
Julia Wood argues that theory does not address ethical issues
Summary Chart
Summary Chart
Full transcript