So, let me tell you a story. There could be no more appropriate way to begin a chapter in a volume in honor of Gerald R. Miller than to use one of his favorite communication activities as the vehicle for discussion of a theory of social influence that has been developed over the last 25 years. The story is not so much about me, as a communication researcher, but rather a case study of sorts about the sociology of science, at least as it refers to the development of a theoretical perspective that has (1) evolved into a set of relatively formal, logical propositions with some nomothetic force, (2) generated a number of derived hypotheses with considerable explanatory and predictive power, and (3) been supported with a wealth of empirical data attesting to its generalizability cross-contextually.
The general expectancy model. Before telling the tale of how this theory developed over the past quarter of a century, perhaps a brief summary of the basic tenets of the theory is in order. M. Burgoon and G.R. Miller ( 1985) provided a rather complete exposition of their theoretical position on the relationship between language and persuasion with the following introduction: