Theories Of Interpersonal Communication

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INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION: SOCIAL PENETRATION 5

Interpersonal Communication: Social Penetration
KeyAhni’ Norwood
Oakland University

“Progressing lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.”- Khalil Gibran
Interpersonal communication is a theory studied by Social Psychologist Irwin Altman and former Psychology Professor Dalmas Taylor. It is the process by which people exchange information, feelings, and meaning through verbal and non-verbal messages during face-to-face interaction. The primary form of interpersonal communication they studied was social penetration. Social penetration is a theory that proposes that as a relationship develops, interpersonal communication moves from relatively shallow, non-intimate levels to deeper, more intimate ones. In other words, it is the way that relationships progress and become more intimate as information is disclosed and one allows another to gain more access to their life. The key aspect in successful social penetration is self-disclosure (Altman & Taylor,1973).Self-disclosure is when you allow yourself to become vulnerable enough to allow another person to know the details of who you are and your life story. There
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This stage is when romantic relationships begin to form. Communicators become more comfortable and begin to disclose personal/private information. It is also the stage in which one becomes comfortable enough to argue and criticize their partner. Idiomatic language, or the use of words or phrases that have a special meaning within a specific relationship (Bell et al.,1987,pg.48), is popularized. Couples will use pet names when referring to each other. These pet names tend to reflect something specific to the person beholding the title. Words such as “Baby” and “Honey” are not names considered to be idiomatic due to them typically being the universal terms of affection (Dunleavy &
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