"Decisions about self-disclosure - whether to reveal one's thoughts, feelings, or past experiences to another person, or the level of intimacy of such disclosure - are part of the everyday life of most persons" (Derlega and Berg, 1987, p. ix). The decisions one makes on the issue of whether or not to self-disclose with others affects not only the types of relationships one will have with others and how they are perceived, but also how well they know themselves. Clearly, self-disclosure plays a major role in the development of close relationships. Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor, the theorists behind Social Penetration theory, recognized this fact and designed their theory to illustrate and explain this process of self-disclosure through social penetration. In this paper, I will explain Altman and Taylor's Social Penetration theory and the framework behind it, offer come critiques that have been made about the theory by other communication scholars, and present examples of studies conducted using the ideas of social penetration.
To understand the idea of Social Penetration theory, one must first understand the ideas behind it, and more specifically, its framework. The theory focuses around the idea that within every relationship social penetration processes exist. Altman and Taylor (1973) explain that these processes include "verbal exchange, nonverbal use of the body, use of the physical environment, and interpersonal perceptions - all of which are exhibited at different levels of intimacy of encounter" (p. 3). The goal of Social Penetration theory is to describe the "formation, maintenance, and dissolution of close relationships" (Derlega & Berg, 1987, p. 5).
According to the theory, the form...
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...ocial penetration theory. I used Griffin's text mainly as a source for my critiques of the theory.
Jourard, S. M. (1971). Self-disclosure: an experimental analysis of the transparent self. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
This publication is another psychology oriented edition about self-disclosure. I didn't use any information from this book because it was all repetition from the other sources I gathered. I used the other source information because I found it more reputable.
Tannen, D. (1986). That's not what I mean! How conversational style makes or breaks relationships. New York, NY: Ballantine.
Deborah Tannen, the author, is the theorist behind genderlects. The only information I used from this book was the quote about the differences between how men and women are seasoned to communicate. Nothing else was relevant to my topic.