Charles Berger and Richard Calabrese explain the connection between their central concept of uncertainty and seven key variables of relationship development with a series of axioms, and deduce a series intercultural communication james w neuliep pdf theorems accordingly. In 1975, Charles Berger and Richard Calabrese created uncertainty reduction theory “to explain how communication is used to reduce uncertainties between strangers engaging in their first conversation together”. Previous researchers had approached interpersonal communication from empirical perspectives.
The foundation of the uncertainty reduction theory stems from the information theory, originated by Claude E. People experience uncertainty in interpersonal settings. Uncertainty is an aversive state, generating cognitive stress. When strangers meet, their primary concern is to reduce their uncertainty or to increase predictability. Interpersonal communication is a developmental process that occurs through stages. Interpersonal communication is the primary means of uncertainty reduction.
The quantity and nature of information that people share change through time. It is possible to predict people’s behavior in a lawlike fashion. Uncertainty is high in initial interactions because individuals are not aware of the beliefs and attitude of the other party. Behavioral uncertainty pertains to “the extent to which behavior is predictable in a given situation”.
Proactive uncertainty reduction, making predictions of the most likely alternative actions the other person might take, is strategic communication planning prior to interaction. In initial meetings, people attempt to predict what the other may want to hear based on the meaning they acquired from previous statements, observations, or information ascertained. Retroactive uncertainty reduction is the process of analyzing the situation post interaction, which refers to making explanations for the other person’s behavior and interpreting the meaning of behavioral choices. Based on these two processes, Berger and Calabrese suggest that interpersonal communication behavior has at least two different roles to play within this framework. First, communication behavior itself is what we endeavor to predict and explain. Second, communication behavior is one vehicle that enables the formulation of predictions and explanations. Verbal communication: Given the high level of uncertainty present at the onset of the entry phase, as the amount of verbal communication between strangers increases, the level of uncertainty for each interactant in the relationship will decrease.
In the exit phase, there is also evidence that people who are highly uncertain about themselves are more likely to identify with more homogeneous groups to reduce their uncertainty of self and reach a more definite state. Focusing on primary goals — their uncertainty level toward Americans decreased. Shared Networks : Shared communication networks reduce uncertainty, and Sunnafrank that complements computer mediated communication and the technological advancements. This limited access to nonverbal cues produces a different set of concerns for individuals, the personal phase occurs when strangers begin to explore one another’s attitudes and beliefs.
As uncertainty is further reduced, the amount of verbal communication will increase. As non-verbal affiliate expressiveness increases, uncertainty levels will decrease in an initial interaction situation. Information seeking: In initial interactions, interactants are expected to engage in question asking, and the questions asked might only demand relatively short answers, for example: request for information of one’s occupation, hometown, places of prior residence and so on. High levels of uncertainty cause increases in information-seeking behavior. Intimacy level of communication content: High levels of uncertainty in a relationship cause decreases in the intimacy level of communication content. Reciprocity : High levels of uncertainty produce high rates of reciprocity.