In and Around

Greetings my lovely people!

We’re gonna jump right into it…I didn’t know that there were “traditions” behind theory – but apparently that’s a thing. So this past week I fell a little further down the rabbit hole. We began chasing the white rabbit (communication), he disappeared down the hole (theory) and now I’m Alice, following him into uncertainty.

At least the answers come easier here. Okay, so there are eight traditions guiding communication theory, and I’ll be telling you a little more about them over the course of the next couple of weeks as I learn about them.

This week, when the concept of traditions guiding theory came up it threw me for a loop. I thought “Curiouser and curiouser”…or some facsimile thereof. Essentially, these traditions justify how theories are developed.

It’s kind of like a filtering system. The biggest particle is theory, which is filtered down into the scientific and humanistic approaches. When that’s filtered we get the traditions, then one more filtration gives us the theories. Of course since we’re going through these with a fine-toothed comb, we’ve just reached this third ‘layer’. We’re ready to look at the first filtrate – the socio-psychological tradition.

Under this tradition, the communication process is seen as interpersonal interaction and influence. It’s all about social behaviours and the more psychological side of communication.

From the moment I saw behaviours come into play, I began to link it with the scientific approach. Scholars who fall under the socio-psychological tradition believe in careful systematic observations and cause and effect relationships, in an environment free of personal bias.

They focus on discovering communication truths about attitude change, message processing and media effects by asking three main questions:

  1. Can we predict individual communication behaviour?
  2. How does an individual internalise, conceptualise and react to different communication behaviours?
  3. By what logic do people make decisions about the types of message they wish to use?

Image result for thought bubble

Naturally there are a few ‘exceptions’ to the rules, or should I say…variations. The behavioral variation of this tradition places its emphasis on people’s behaviour in communication situations; the cognitive variation highlights how messages are processed in order to produce behavioural output; and the biological variation speaks to how in-born neurobiological influences play into the grand scheme of things.

But the underlying concept is still this same.

Next time, we’ll have a look at the cybernetic theory – which, contrary to my previous beliefs, has very little to do with robots (if anything at all).


Cyndi, the Traditionalist


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