Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts: Social Penetration Theory, Self-Disclosure, Uncertainty Reduction Theory, and Relational Dialectics Theory
Social Penetration Theory (SPT)
• SPT is a theory about the development of “relational closeness.”
• Relational closeness can progress from superficial to intimate.
• Closeness develops through self-disclosure.
Closeness varies according to the following factors:
• Stability and security
“Please listen carefully and try to hear what I am not saying . . .
What I'd like to be able to say . . .
What for survival I need to say . . .
But what I can't say." - Unknown
Self-disclosure is sharing with someone information which helps him or her understand you. Self-disclosure is most revealing when the sharing is in the present and least revealing when the sharing is about the past. -- D. Johnson, Reaching Out:Interpersonal Effectiveness and Self-Actualization (Boston: Allyn and Bacon) 1997 ,p.33.
• The story always represents the storyteller (the person disclosing).
• SD stimulates feedback. The quality of the feedback is related to the amount and relevance of self-disclosure we receive and share with others.
• Self-disclosure can be most revealing or least revealing.
** S. Jourard (in The Transparent Self) defines self-disclosure as making ourselves "transparent" to others through our communication--i.e., when we tell others things about ourselves which help them to see our uniqueness as a human being.
** Culpert distinguishes between self-description vs. self-disclosure. Self-description involves communication that levels "public layers" whereas self-disclosure involves communication that reveals more private, sensitive, and confidential information.
** Pearce & Sharp make an interesting distinction among three...