Communication Theories

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In interpersonal communication there are many theories that are similar yet different in many ways. The theories can be combined to describe people and how those people interact and communicate with each other. Many of these theories help explain how people in society form impressions of others, how they maintain these impressions, why people interact with certain people in society, and how people will use these impressions that they have formed later on in life. These theories also help people to better understand themselves, to better understand interpersonal communication, and to better understand people in general. There are two theories in interpersonal communication that, despite their differences, can go hand in hand. The first is interaction adaptation theory and the second is emotional contagion theory. These two theories’ similarities and differences and their relevance to my everyday life will be discussed in this paper. These two theories are very important in understanding how people interact with others and why people do the things they do sometimes.
Interaction adaptation theory defined by Beebe, Beebe, and Redmond (2005) is a “Theory suggesting that people interact with others by adapting to what others are doing” (p. 190). A way of looking at this theory is by thinking about a mirror. “Sometimes we relate by mirroring the posture or behavior of others” (p. 190). This theory believes that people will share the same kind of communication patterns when they are communicating together. People will interact in the same way as the other person. There has been a conclusion based on this theory that “nonverbal cues play a key role in how people adapt to others” (p. 190). If a person is communicating with their friend, who has their arms crossed, than this person might find that they are crossing their arms as well. These types of actions are all conclusions to this theory. People, based on their interactions with others, usually tend to develop similar communication patterns and find themselves mirroring the patterns of the other.
Emotional contagion theory is a little similar to interaction adaptation theory. According to Beebe, Beebe, and Redmond (2005), emotional contagion theory “suggests that people tend to ‘catch’ the emotions of others” (p. 213). This means that if a person is comm...

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...oes for most of the emotions that people feel. I never really noticed any of this before I started writing this paper. I shared this information with my best friend and she was amazed that the way people interact is generally the same within groups in society. She now has a better understanding of the communication patterns and behaviors of people and she is not even in the class.
These theories have helped me to have a clearer understanding of how people interact with others and how they can share emotions. Everybody uses these theories whether they are conscious of it or not. If people did not use these theories than they would not be taught in class. Knowing about these theories and how they work is very beneficial to having better communication and interaction with people who are complete strangers and with people who are friends or even colleagues. The way people interact with others is important to knowing how they will share emotions and behaviors not only now, but also in the future.

Beebe, S., Beebe, S., Redmond, M. (2005). Interpersonal Communication: Relating to
Others. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
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