Instructor: Shelby Reigstad
Student: Haddish Abadi
06 November 2012
Thesis Statement
Self-disclosure is a communication process that moves from
the relatively shallow, non-intimate levels, to deeper and
more personal levels as relationships gradually develop
(Altman & Taylor 1973, cited in Floyd, 2009).
Human conversation (30-40% of everyday speech)
- relays information to others about one’s private
experiences or personal relationships (Tamir & Jason, 2012).
Definition: Self-disclosure
• “The act of giving others information about oneself that one
believes they do not already have” (Floyd, 2009).
• “Act of revealing personal information to others.
- Plays a central role in the formation and maintenance of
close relationships” (Bareket & Shahar, 2011).
• Personal information communicated verbally, nonverbally or
written to another person (Omarzu, 2010).
• Voluntary sharing a part of yourself, that is, your inner
being, thoughts, & emotions with someone else.
1. Social Penetration Theory (SPT)
 Developed by Irwin Altman & Dalmas Taylor.
 Predicts that as relationships develop, communication
increases in breadth and depth,” (Floyd, 2009).
 “As relationships develop, communication moves from
relatively shallow, non-intimate levels to deeper, more
personal ones,” (Altman & Taylor, 1973).
 Proposes that closeness occurs through a gradual process of
self-disclosure (
The Johari Window
 The Arena : Information
known by self & others.
 The Facade : Information
known-by-self but not
by Others
 The Unknown :
Information not knownby-self and not knownby-others.
Known by Self
Known by
 The blindspot:
Information known-byothers but not known-byself.
Unknown by Self
(Little, 2005)
2. Principles of Self-disclosure
2.1 Self-disclosure varies in breadth & depth:
– Breadth: the number of topics or content areas
referred to disclosure.
– Depth: intensity of the discourse. (Omarzu, 2000)
• Self-disclosure over time is like peeling away the
layers of an onion.
The Onion Analogy
Giving greater
depth of your
private information
= trust
Depth :
Intimacy of the
topics a person selfdiscloses to another.
Range of topics
that a person
self-discloses to
Greater breadth:
Disclosing wide
range of topics
(Floyd, 2009)
… Principles of Self-disclosure
2.2 Self-disclosure follows a process
 Closeness develops over time
As people get to know to each other, they
reveal more and more information about
2.3 It is intentional and truthful.
It must meet two conditions:
a) Deliberately share information about
b) Information is true.
Intentionally giving false information about
ourselves is an act of deception.
(Floyd, 2009)
…Principles of Self-disclosure
2.4 It is usually reciprocal.
 Norm of reciprocity:
When we disclose things to
other people, we expect them
to disclose things to us in
2.5 It can serve many purposes.
- To share information
- To ask for help
- To build relationship, etc.
(Omarzu, 2000)
…Principles of Self-disclosure
2.6 Self-disclosure is influenced by cultural and gender roles.
 Women, on average, do self-disclose more than men.
(Snell et. al, 1988)
 Norms of the culture in which we grow up affect it.
(Altman & Taylor, 1987).
 Americans and Europeans usually self-disclose to their
friends and family.
 Most Asian cultures, value discretion and disclose only
under limited circumstances.
3. Benefits & Risks
3.1 Benefits
Enhancement of relationship and trust
Self-disclosure maintains relationships and reinforces the
trust we share with those individuals.
When we disclose to other, they tend to disclose back to us.
Emotional release, reduces stress
 Self-disclosure to trusted friends leads to emotional
 It can also reduce the stress of holding on to a secret.
(Omarzu, 2000)
3. Benefits & Risks
3.2 Risks
 Rejection by the listener
Due to distorted impressions: as when an HIV positive friend
self-discloses he may be rejected.
 Reduction of one’s autonomy & personal integrity.
 Violation of other people’s privacy
When we disclose information (gossip) to third parties.
(Omarzu, 2000)
• Self-disclosure is a communication process that moves
from less intimacy to a deeper one.
• It is an act of giving information about oneself that you
believe other people do not already have.
• Self-disclosure maintains relationships and reinforces
the trust we share with those individuals.
• It is a communication process that is intentional and
Altman, I., & Taylor, D., (1973). Social Penetration: The development of Interpersonal Relationships, New
York: NY: St. Martin’s Press.
Altman, I., & Taylor, D. (1987). Communication in Interpersonal relationships. Social Penetration Theory. In
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Floyd, K. (2009). Interpersonal Communication: The Whole Story. New York: Mc Grow Hill.
Little, L. (2005) Leadership Communication and the Johari Window: Administrator, Vol. 24, Issue 3, p4-4.
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