COM 270
Introduction to Theories of Human Communication

Lecture 18: Uncertainty Reduction Theory


I. Introduction

A. Uncertainty Reduction Theory is the product Charles ("Chuck") Berger, a professor of communication at the University of California at Davis.

B. Uncertainty Reduction Theory explains why it is so important for us to get to know each other in order to develop relationships with them.

C. Uncertainty Reduction Theory is based on the following assumptions about human nature:

1. When we meet someone for the first time, our primary concern is to increase predictability about their behaviors in interaction with us.

2. Our desire to reduce uncertainty about someone we meet for the first time is enhanced by three conditions:

a. Anticipation of prior interaction: We know we will see them again

b. Incentive value: They have something we want

c. Deviance: They act in an unusual ("strange" or "wierd") way

3. There are two types of uncertainty that we seek to reduce:

a. Behavioral uncertainty: What does the person's behaviors mean? How should you act or behave around this person?

b. Cognitive uncertainty: What is the person thinking? What are his/her personality traits?

II. Propositions

A. Verbal Communication: The more we talk to some, the more we think we know that person.

B. Nonverbal Warmth: The more friendly a person appears, the more confident we feel around that person.

C. Self-Disclosure: More more uncertain we feel about someone, the less likely we are to share information about ourselves to that person.

D. Reciprocity: When people tell us something about themselves, we feel obligated to reciprocate by telling them something about ourselves.

E. Similarity: The more similar the person is to us, the more we think we know that person.

F. Liking: The more we like a person, the more we think we know that person.

G. Shared networks: We are most certain about our friends and people we interact with on a regular basis.




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