Berger's Uncertainty Reduction Theory

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Introduced by Chuck Berger, the Uncertainty Reduction Theory was a way in which to explain the interactions, or the absence of which, between strangers. "Berger's uncertainty reduction theory focuses on how human communication is used to gain knowledge and create understanding," (Griffin, 125). It details how, upon first meeting, strangers go through several steps in order to reduce the uncertainty they have for each other during their initial conversation. With this theory, people are able to gain the amount of knowledge they feel they need in order to asses whether or not they take a liking to that person. Berger describes how people will go through a serious of "axioms to explain the connection between his central concept of uncertainty and eight key variables of relationship development," (Griffin, 126). An axiom is defined as being "traditionally regarded as self-evident truths that require no additional proof," or, in other words, solid facts gained by communication that assist in figuring out who that person is and what they're all about (Griffin, 126). Through these "axioms" Berger believes people learn enough about that person in order to make an informed enough decision upon whether or not they'd like a continuous relationship with that person. There are 8 axioms: "verbal communication," "nonverbal warmth," "information seeking," "self-disclosure," "reciprocity," "similarity," "liking," and "shared networks," (Griffin, 127-128). Verbal communication is the idea that, as the amount of verbal interaction between strangers increases, the level of uncertainty will, in turn, decrease, which then results in a further increase of verbal interaction (Griffin, 126). Nonverbal warmth is the practice of relaxed expressions of body language between the strangers, expressing the decrease in their level of uncertainty, examples include "prolonged eye contact, forward
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