Communication Accommodation Theory

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Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT) states that people adjust their communication to others due to various reasons: seek for listener’s approval, maintain positive social identity and wanting to achieve communication efficiency. According to Giles, people accommodate their speeches and behaviors more to the people they found attracted to and who have more similar beliefs and attitudes with them. Giles suggested that people use perception and evalution in conversations, which means people observe and interpret message before they decide how to act in a conversation. Moreover, people who has a lower social status is often more likely to accommodate to and guided by people who are from higher social status. People also perform their behaviors according to norms and appropriateness, where they try to reach the expectations of behaviors in conversations. CAT suggests several ways when people adapt during conversations: convergence, divergence and overaccommodation. People may adjust themselves in order to highlight similar behaviors to others or distinguish themselves from others. Convergence is a strategy used to adapt another’s behaviors. Usually people converge toward stereotypes. Divergence is used to emphasize differences between communicators. It is a way to maintain one’s social identity and power status. Overaccommodation means to overdo in regulating to others even acting from good intentions.

What Giles suggested in the theory is more than only showing us the reason we accommodate or Not accommodate to others in conversations. People use these tactics in order to maintain their social identities and statuses. It is especially important to minorities, whom are always expected to adjust to the mainstream. This theory make them realize what they have been doing unconsciously and what created unjustice in society. Another phenomenon that the theory has suggested is that people sometimes over-accommodate in order to fit in a group. People try to be...
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