Chapter Nine: Social Penetration Theory (Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor) COM 252 Interpersonal Communication Professor Arrington Intimacy Emotional Physical Intellectual Shared activities Distance Avoiding Becoming reserved Shortening interaction Restricting topics Restraint Deception Dialectical Tension Closeness privacy Interdependence autonomy Intimacy is NOT essential for a positive relationship. Obsession with intimacy can lead to a less satisfying relationship. The desire for intimacy in a relationship can wax and wane. Hold me tight – put me down – leave me alone Personalities as Onions? Personality structure as a multilayered onion – Outer layer – Inner core Social Penetration Theory (SPT) Key Points SPT is a theory about the development of “relational closeness.” Relational closeness can progress from superficial to intimate. Closeness develops through self-disclosure. Closeness varies according to the following factors: Rewards/benefits Costs/vulnerability Satisfaction Stability and security Self-Disclosure Self-disclosure is sharing with someone information which helps him or her understand you. Selfdisclosure is most revealing when the sharing is in the present and least revealing when the sharing is about the past. -- D. Johnson, Reaching Out:Interpersonal Effectiveness and Self-Actualization (Boston: Allyn and Bacon) 1997 ,p.33. Self-disclosure Peripheral items exchanged sooner, more frequently than private information Self-disclosure as reciprocal, especially early in relationship development Penetration is rapid at the beginning of a relationship but slows down as we move from outer to inner layers Depenetration – gradual process of layer-bylayer withdrawal Self-Disclosure Definitions ** S. Jourard (in The Transparent Self) defines self-disclosure as making ourselves "transparent" to others through our communication--i.e., when we tell others things about ourselves which help them to see our uniqueness as a human being. ** Culpert distinguishes between self-description vs. selfdisclosure. Self-description involves communication that levels "public layers" whereas self-disclosure involves communication that reveals more private, sensitive, and confidential information. ** Pearce & Sharp make an interesting distinction among three related terms: Self-disclosure, confession, and revelation. •Self-disclosure -- voluntarily communication of information about one's self to another. •Confession -- forced or coerced communication of information about one's self to another. •Revelation -- unintentional or inadvertent communication of information about one's self to another. Findings of Self Disclosure Research Disclosure increases with increased relational intimacy. Disclosure increases with the need to reduce uncertainty in a relationship. Disclosure tends to be reciprocal. Disclosure tends to be incremental. Disclosure tends to be symmetrical. Liking is related to positive disclosure, but not to negative ones. Positive disclosure does not necessarily increase with the intimacy of the relationship; but negative disclosure is directly related to the intimacy of the relationship. Relational satisfaction and disclosure have a curvilinear relationship -- satisfaction is highest with moderate levels of disclosure. Theory into Practice: Guidelines for Self-Disclosure Is the time, place, and information appropriate and/or relevant? Is the audience appropriate for your self-disclosure? Might the information you are about to disclose reflect badly on others known to the group? Will your self-disclosure demonstrate respect for another individual's or group's opinion? Is the situation one in which you trust the other person(s) to listen and show courtesy toward you? Do you have a relationship with the other person(s) which allows for mutual disclosure? How close are you to the other person? How much personal detail do you need to go into? Might you embarrass yourself or others? Have you developed adequate rapport with the other person? Do you feel pressured to self-disclose? Is this something you really want to do? Theory into Practice: Guidelines for Self-Disclosure Can you trust the other person(s) to maintain confidentiality if necessary? Do you feel comfortable self-disclosing in the situation you are in? What impact will your self-disclosure have on the other person? Do you have a relationship with the other person(s) which allows for mutual disclosure? How close are you to the other person? How much personal detail do you need to go into? Might you embarrass yourself or others? Have you developed adequate rapport with the other person? Do you feel pressured to self-disclose? Is this something you really want to do? Can you trust the other person(s) to maintain confidentiality if necessary? Do you feel comfortable self-disclosing in the situation you are in? What impact will your self-disclosure have on the other person? Self-Disclosure Tests For individuals: http://psychologytoday.psychtests.com/tests/s elf_disclosure_general_access.html For couples: http://psychologytoday.psychtests.com/cgibin/tests/transfer_ap.cgi?partner=pt&part=1&t est=self_disclosure_couples_r&AMT=9.95&it em=SelfDisclosure%20Test%20for%20Couples%20%20R A Contextual Self-Disclosure Test (from http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/comm321/gwalker/relationships.htm) Step 1: Identify a relationship – – – – – – – – Stranger Co-worker Employer/supervisor Acquaintance Friend Intimate partner Family member Peer in this class Step 2: Rate the items that follow using the following scale: 1 – would definitely self-disclose 2 – would probably self-disclose 3 – uncertain if I would self-disclose 4 – would probably not self-disclose 5 – would definitely not self-disclose Step 3: The Items My religious beliefs My attitudes toward other religions, nationalities, ethnic groups My economic status My parents’ attitudes about other religions, nationalities, ethnic groups My feelings about my parents My past intimate relationships My ideal mate My sexual fantasies My doubts about myself My hopes and fears Step 3: Continued My drinking and/or drug-taking behavior My political beliefs My job satisfaction or dissatisfaction My relationship satisfaction or dissatisfaction My feelings about the people in the relevant group (e.g. peers in this class, co-workers, family members) Your SD score: The LOWER your score, the HIGHER your SD score is. Score a 75 – you HARDLY EVER selfdisclose Score a 15 – you SELF-DISCLOSE to extremes Maybe we should work on a nice happy medium?