Theory of Reduction
The uncertainty reduction theory by Berger has many positive aspects also some negative aspects. Berger states 7 original axioms and one more that was added later. The original theory was produced as a theorem in 1975 at Northwestern University by Berger and colleague Richard Calbrese. Over the next 10 years Berger modified and added much to this theorem to what is now known as the Uncertainty reduction Theory.
The theory deals with the first time people meet and why they will or will not like this person. Also why people become friends and others will never talk again. These axioms that make up the theory are simple yet complex. Some of the axioms are common sense, well other take a little more thought. The seven axioms and their meaning are:
1.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. As uncertainty reduced, the amount of verbal communication will increase.
Basically the first part says when you first meet some-one verbal communication will increase, and of course it will, because youíve never talked to them before. This means when first meeting someone you donít know anything about them as you get to know more about the person the amount of talking will go on.
2. As nonverbal affiliative expressiveness increases, uncertainty levels will decrease in an initial interaction situation. In addition, decrease in uncertainty level will cause increase in non-verbal affiliative expressiveness.
This axioms says, more non-verbal communications that goes on during conversation the more you get to know someone, the more you know some-one the more nonverbal signs they will give.
3.High levels of uncertainty cause increases in information-seeking behavior. As uncertainty levels decline, information-seeking behavior decreases.
The more you know someone, the less time you spend trying to get to learn about the person.
4.High levels of uncertainty in a relationship cause decrease in the intimacy level of communication content. Low levels of uncertainty produce high levels of intimacy.
If you donít know you r friend or partner, the less you get intimate or share closeness, and if you know them well the more intimate you will be.
5.High levels of uncertainty produce high rates of reciprocity, low levels of uncertainty produce low levels of reciprocity.
The more you know someone the less you will think about personal things to say. But if you donít know the person well then when you reveal something personal about yourself you expect to her something personal about the other person.
6. Similarities between persons reduce uncertainty, while dissimilarities produce increase in uncertainty.
This is one of the simple axioms mentioned earlier and that is the more you are alike the more uncertain about that person you are. This negates the opinion of opposites attract.
7. Increase in uncertainty level produce decrease in liking; decrease in uncertainty produce increase in liking.
This is another simple axiom, the less you know someone the less you will like him or her. That is common sense.
8.Shared communication networks reduce uncertainty, while lake of shared networks increase uncertainty.
This one is skeptical because if someone shares a communication network it is not necessarily mean they will get along better with that person. That is similar to saying if two people like the same dish detergent the more they will get along.
Along with the axioms there are other factors that are involved when first meeting someone. These are the cost benefit, that is what they can they do for me. Others include:
a. Anticipation of future interaction: We know we will see them again
b. Incentive value: they have something you want
c. Deviance: they act in a weird way
In all three circumstances something about them will make you act different. If you know you will see someone again you must act as if you like him or her. If they have something that you want you will act different. If someone acts in a weird way then you will want to know the, due to the curiosity factor.
The eight axioms are listed with the meaning of the book and the meanings of everyday language. Some axioms work sometimes, as some may work every time. The examples listed below are how some of these axioms may or may not work in some circumstance. The example that you mentioned in class is axiom # 6 that is with professional athletes and how kids and adults may like or even love a athlete that they have never even meet. They may not have anything in common with them but the may feel as though they are close to this person. Also in axiom three where Breger says that the less you know about someone the more you will seek information about them. This may be true in some instance but not in others, sometimes you may just want to get to know someone, and others you just do not care if you ever know them. Although some axioms may not work in some instances, on the whole the axioms and the Theory works out well in ordinary, everyday life.