Discussion of the Situational and Developmental Views in a Scene from Titanic
Interpersonal communication plays a major role in everyone’s daily life. Because it is so important, theorists have developed two views about how to determine whether a transaction is interpersonal or not. We will be looking at the situational and the developmental view by applying it to a scene from a movie in order to determine which one is a better indicator. The particular scene that will be discussed is a scene from James Cameron’s Titanic. The scene takes place the day after Jack sees Rose hanging off the edge of the ship while she debates whether she should jump or not. Jack convinces her not to jump, and she agrees. But, her foot slips and Jack saves her. Her fiancé comes running to see what happened but Rose makes up a story about how she fell over trying to see the propellers. Jack remains silent and goes with the story. This particular scene takes place the day after. Jack and Rose are taking a walk around the ship as Rose thanks Jack for saving her life and not disclosing to her fiancé, mother and everyone else the real story of what happened that night (that she tried to commit suicide). What follows is a conversation that starts off as a very cordial and formal discourse, but as the day progresses their dialogue becomes more and more informal as they get to know each other better. According to the situational view, it does not matter what one is saying or to whom he or she is saying it to, it just matters where. There are five criteria for determining whether or not a transaction is interpersonal or not. They are as follows: close physical proximity, small number of communicators, maximum sensory inputs, no intermediaries, and immediate feedback. Although the situational view does not specify how many communicators are considered a “small” number, the criterion is automatically met because there are only two people talking in this scene—Jack and Rose. Close physical proximity is the one criterion that serves as the basis for the situational view. This means that the communicators must be face to face without any barriers. For example, in the scene described above Jack and Rose are walking side by side and talking to each other without the use of intermediaries such as the telephone or the passing of notes. Moreover, they have maximum sensory inputs. This means that Jack and Rose have the opportunity to use all of their senses such as sight, sound, touch, smell and if they really wanted to, taste. Since the two communicators in this scene are talking face to face without the use of intermediaries they are able to receive immediate feedback, both verbal and non-verbal such as body language. For example after Jack tells the story of how he grew up there is an awkward silence as Rose looks around not sure what to say. Jack observes her awkward and hesitant behavior and kindly engages her in conversation once again. Some problems with this particular view include the not so serious ambiguity of the number of communicators and the static conception of interpersonal communication. In other words, as long as a verbal transaction adheres to the five given characteristics then the transaction qualifies as interpersonal communication.
According to the developmental view there lies an underlying assumption that communication is purposive or goal oriented to some extent. It also assumes that all initial communication is non-interpersonal. This is especially true for Jack and Rose’s relationship. The onset of their conversation was initiated by Rose because she wanted to thank Jack for his discretion in front of her fiancé. However, even though there was a reason for why she wanted to talk to Jack, she had no additional motives other than thanking him for that night. So, as one can see, their relationship is not very interpersonal at this point and the rules for the type of conversation they are engaging in (initial semi-interpersonal...
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