Interpersonal Communication: Evolving Interpersonal Relationships

By Pamela J. Kalbfleisch | Go to book overview
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3
Dyad Gender Structure,
Uncertainty Reduction, and
Self-Disclosure During
Initial Interaction

Dell Hastings McKinney1
University of Wyoming

William C. Donaghy University of Wyoming

Conversational development in initial interaction has long been of interest to communication scholars. Initial interactions are one of the best available examples of highly scripted communication situations ("Hi, how are you?" "What's your name?" "Where do you come from?" "What do you do for a living?" etc.). Uncertainty reduction theory (URT) posits the goal of initial interaction partners to be the reduction of uncertainty in an attempt to determine the future of the relationship ( Berger & Calabrese, 1975). As uncertainty declines, URT predicts that information-seeking behavior will also decrease (Axiom 3). Further, the theory suggests (Axiom 4) that "low levels of uncertainty produce high levels of intimacy" ( Berger & Calabrese, 1975, p. 54). Self-disclosure theory (SDT; Berg & Derlega, 1987; Derlega, Harris, & Chaikin, 1973; Jourard, 1968) rests on the assumption that strangers self-disclose in an attempt to establish an appropriate intimacy level and that recipients respond by disclosing information about themselves at the same or comparable intimacy level (reciprocity; Cozby, 1973; Gouldner, 1960); hence as uncertainty declines and intimacy increases, self-disclosure should increase. The relationship between dyad gender structure (same and mixed gender), uncertainty reduction, and self-disclosure during initial interaction has received some investigation but with very mixed results. The importance of same and opposite gender dyad structures has been substantiated in many other communication

____________________
1
Request for further information on this chapter should be directed to Dell Hastings McKinney.

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