Uncertainty Reduction Theory

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Category: English Composition

Date Submitted: 09/18/2012 10:28 AM

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Dan Perez

Summary of theory

- When strangers meet, their primary focus is on reducing their level of uncertainty in the situation because uncertainty is uncomfortable. People can be uncertain on two levels: behavioral and cognitive. They may be unsure of how to behave (or how the other person will behave), and they may also be unsure of what they think of the other person and what the other person thinks of them. By interacting with each other more, each person becomes more comfortable and can predict future behavior – making the relationship more intimate. As intimacy increases, uncertainty dissolves.

Uncertainty Reduction Theory Questions


U.R.T. is based on the idea that new relationships cause uncertainty. The uncertainty is uncomfortable and people communicate to alleviate discomfort.

- Prediction: The ability to forecast one’s own and others’ behavioral choices.

- Cognitive Uncertainty: Degree of uncertainty related to cognitions.

- Behavioral Uncertainty: Degree of uncertainty related to behaviors.

- Self-disclosure: Personal messages about the self disclosed to another person.

- Proactive uncertainty reduction process: When a person thinks about communication options before actually engaging with another person.

- Retroactive uncertainty reduction process: An attempt to explain behavior after the encounter itself.

- Active strategy: Observe the person

- Passive strategy: Ask others for more information

- Interactive strategy: Talk directly to the target

7 Axioms

- 1) Because there is so much uncertainty during the entry phase, as the amount of verbal communication between strangers increases, the level of uncertainty for each person in the relationship decreases.

- 2) As nonverbal expressiveness increases, uncertainty levels decrease in an initial interaction situation. Decreases in uncertainty level will cause increases in nonverbal expressiveness.

- 3) High levels of uncertainty cause increases in information...