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The Anxiety/Uncertainty Management Theory

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The Anxiety/Uncertainty Management Theory

According to William B. Gudykunst in his article "A Model of Uncertainty Reduction in Intercultural Encounters," the uncertainty reduction theory explains initial interactions between two strangers from the same culture. Studies, however, suggest this theory can also be extended to interpersonal communication between two people from different cultures.

Uncertainty refers to how well you can accurately predict how strangers will behave during their initial interaction and the ability to explain the strangers' behavior. Research on uncertainty reduction theory has been limited to attitude similarity. However, it has been argued that in order to understand the influence of similarity on interpersonal relations, research must examine cultural similarity/dissimilarity also. This term refers to how similar and/or different the cultures are from which the communicators come.

According to research, uncertainty is higher in intercultural encounters than in intracultural encounters. There are three major factors that influence communication between people from different cultures. One is cultural similarity/dissimilarity. The second is second language competence. Last is previous experience in the other culture. Depending on how similar two cultures are can influence a variety of things. It can influence how one culture learns the language of another culture. The overlap of communication networks is also influenced. Attributional confidence, which is known as the inverse of uncertainty, is another factor influenced by cultural similarity. Research indicates the more similar another culture is to yours the easier it is for you to learn that culture. Gudykunst's research also indicates that...

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...onfident in your communication skills with that culture. If you are unsure of how to act around a different culture you are bound to feel nervous and unsure of yourself. If you are nervous this will also tend to make the other person nervous. In result, you will not be able to effectively communicate with each other. Remember, the more you know about the other person's culture the less uncertainty you will have and the more comfortable you will be with each other.

A theory that relates to anxiety/uncertainty management is speech codes. The speech codes theory relates to anxiety/uncertainty by explaining the connection between communication and culture. Click here to visit a site on speech codes theory.

Works Cited

Gudykunst, William B. "A Model of Uncertainty Reduction in Intercultural
Encounters." Journal of Language and Social Psychology 4 (1985): 79-97.

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