Theory of Communication

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Theories of communication
A theory is a set of ideas that can be used to understand,
explain and make predictions about something. Theories of communication provide ways of analysing communication between people and give care practitioners an insight into what works and why. Michael Argyle (1925–2002) was a social psychologist who researched and developed theories about human communication and interpersonal interaction. He focused on both verbal and non-verbal communication, carrying out experimental research to test and develop his theoretical ideas (see Argyle, 1967, 1969 and 1975). Argyle’s

‘communication cycle’ theory sets out to understand, explain and predict how communication occurs between people in one-to-one situations. In The Psychology of Interpersonal Behaviour (1967), Argyle proposed that communication is a skill that needs to be learnt and practised like any other skill. Argyle’s (1967) claim was that human communication is essentially a two-way process that involves people sending, receiving and responding to each other’s verbal and non-verbal messages. The receiver of the message keeps the communication going by responding to or by giving feedback to the original message. This process then repeats and builds into a communication cycle.

Care practitioners need to have an understanding of group processes and patterns of group behaviour in order to interact and communicate well in the various group situations that they experience. Understanding how groups form and then develop is an important part of this. Bruce Tuck man (1965) outlined a model of group development based around a number of stages, or a sequence, of group activity. Tuck man’s (1965) theory suggests that groups must go through these stages to be effective and that the pattern of communication in each of the four stages is different 1. Forming involves group members coming together and asking basic questions about the purpose and aims of the group, each member’s role within it...
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