Uncertainty Reduction Theory

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Jonathan Quinones
Literature Review Paper
Comm 306

Uncertainty Reduction Theory
Uncertainty is an unpleasant feeling and because of this feeling, people are motivated to reduce this uncertainty by means of communication. Uncertainty reduction theory (URT) was developed to describe the interrelationships in any type of communication exchange using seven factors: verbal communication, nonverbal expressiveness, information-seeking behavior, intimacy, reciprocity, similarity, and liking (Berger & Calabrese, 1975). During the beginning stage information about ones sex, age, socio-economic status, along with other demographic information can be obtained. The exchange of information during this beginning stage of communication is usually governed by communication rules and norms. As you move out of this beginning stage, more personal information is divulged such attitudes, beliefs, and values. After all of this, one can determine whether they would like to persue further interaction with that person. This pattern is likely to occur during initial interaction upon meeting someone new, or when relationships come across new topics.

This theoretical perspective was originated by C.R. Berger & Calabrese in 1975. They discovered three different ways in which people seek out information about one another: 1. Passive strategies - a person is being observed. 2. Active strategies - we ask others about the person we're interested in or try to set up a situation where we can observe that person. 3. Interactive strategies – direct communication with that person. I will briefly explain why uncertainty reduction theory is a significant area of study, explain it purpose, and give some example of how some of the information to support this was gathered from five studies that deal with deal with or relate to uncertainty reduction theory (URT).

Information seeking in the Contemporary Workplace, is a study that seeks to find the types of information seeking that goes on when incumbent employees face organizational change. People interact with others to obtain information in an unfamiliar situation, hoping to reduce uncertainty in a new work environment. Yet little is known about information seeking behavior of incumbent employees, such as those who have been with the organization for a long period of time. Research consistently reported that employees feel high uncertainty about organizational change, particularly when they fear the loss of status or jobs, and change in task requirements (Ishii, 2006). Particularly those who feel insecure in their job position may seek-out feedback about the performance of their job duties, as well as the appropriate behavior in the office so as to reduce uncertainty. Self-report data were solicited from employees of a mid-sized public library with a total of 230 employees across its main location and eight other branches, with a participated response of 64.8% (Ishii, 2006). Ishii (2006) found that in the reflection of a contemporary office, this study considered the use of three different communication networks as the source of information and verified that incumbent employees seek information differently through organization-wide, workgroup, and personal communication networks depending on their perceived negative relational consequences in exchange for obtaining information. Results indicated that when employees were highly concerned about potential damage, they tended to use all three channels to communicate with personal friends. On the other hand, when employees were less concerned about negative relational consequences, they tended to talk to workgroup members face-to-face (Ishii, 2006). With these results, social norms in the work place may sway incumbent employees and organizational members in their methods of information seeking. Student communication satisfaction, similarity, and liking as a function of attributional confidence (Goodboy & Myers, 2007). Studying...
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