Communication accommodation theory

Table of contents

Theory Theory of Communication Accommodation Keenness State university Melinda Sykes Communication Accommodation Theory 2 Introduction Verbal behavior is an active lifestyle that individuals use to convey messages. This are of communication involves a multitude of approaches, both In a behavioral sense but also a social psychological approach. Our behavior alters our environment with or without our permission. Therefore, speech is an integral part of the communication accommodation theory because pitch. Illume. Tone and many others s said to cause a shift in ones behavior. In 1987, Giles & Wingman explained communication accommodation as a theory that examines underlying motivations and consequences of shifts In verbal behavior. This theory attempts to explain why people accommodate or adjust to another’s speech and the need to gain approval or maintain social identity with whom they are speaking with. The theory assumptions are that perceptions of another’s speech help Individuals to evaluate and behave towards that person.

The purpose of this paper Is to discuss the development of the theory by reviewing research tested and or extending the theory. More Importantly, the paper will develop an overall evaluation of the theory strength’s, weakness and heuristic potential. Both speech convergence and divergence, they magnify the movement toward or away from the speech style of the other. And determine that it is ultimately motivated by an assumption about the other’s speech (Giles, Mullah, Abroad, & Johnson, 1987).

These strategies give great reference and understanding of the accommodation principle in communication. Communication Accommodation Theory 3 Convergence and divergence are strategies that give light on the reasons why individuals adapt to one another’s speech rate. Convergence indicates that “individuals adapt to each other by slowing down or speeding up speech rate, lengthening or shortening pauses and utterances, and using certain forms of politeness, tag questions and verbal intensifiers in their speech” (Infants, Rancher, & woman, 2003).

Divergence refers to the way speakers accentuate vocal and linguistic differences to underscore social differences between speakers (Infants, Rancher, & Woman, 2003). Though the strategies differ linguistically they are the same in concept. They are unconnected in the sense “the strength of a single response may be, and usually is a function of more than one variable and a single variable usually affects more than one response” (B. F. Skinner, 1957). Street and Giles assumed that divergence is generally used when others are members of undesirable groups or hold distasteful attitudes (1982). Ultimately, we converge with others in interaction if they are powerful and we want to be like them. We diverge from others in interaction if it is important for us to highlight a separate and distinct identity’ (Miller, 2005). Over time, researchers have examined the area of gender and communication. The research has lead to an understanding that individuals classify according to gender orientation rather than biological sex (Virginia Wheelers, 1984). The research uncovered that feminine and undifferentiated individuals were more accommodating than masculine.

The research runs along the same parallel that “feminine language” is viewed as more considerate cooperative, helpful and submissive (Stewart, Stewart, Cooper, & Friendly, 1996). This issue is heuristic in the sense is has brought about the research of sound play. Communication Accommodation Theory 4 Bambini B. Speechifies, author and scientist researched sound play and described it as vocal/verbal activity of a single speaker, more importantly used between young children and mothers (Ochs & Sheffield, 1983).

In these exchanges, children pay attention to the phonological shape of one another’s utterances and repeat or modify slightly a sequence of sounds Just produced. The study has been reported in a number of different cultures. Speech convergence is expressed during sound play. The approval of the mother or the child’s adjustment gains satisfaction for one another. These results suggest that similarity in speech and tone influence perceptions of a relationship and gains overall approval. The study observed the use of sound play, convergence and divergence in the workplace as well.

The method was simple observation through the use of office cameras and role play. The purpose was to observe the amount of times the three strategies mentioned above were used and by what gender. The results of the study results of women showing convergence almost in all cases that presented themselves. Their speech in terms of pitch, volume and tone were all demonstrations that ran insistent with the implied hypotheses. The women showed signs of being more considerate, understanding and submissive.

Their tone and volume were reported to be lower and seemed more empathetic to whom they were speaking with. While the men seemed very consistent with their regular speaking tones in the midst of adversity or casual conversation. More actions of divergence were shown by the male participants. Communication Accommodation Theory 5 Instances were numerous on the part of correcting others verbal expressions and used more extensive Jargon in the workplace. Research has found that stereotypes continue to show the relevance and authenticity of the convergence and divergence strategies.

For example, blind persons report individuals who communicate with them tend to shout or exaggerate behaviors unrelated to their ability to see. Nurses use “baby talk” to the institutionalized elderly, regardless of the individual’s capabilities (Infants, Rancher, & Woman, 2003). Another example would be the tendency of individuals to yell or express exaggerated movements to persons who cannot hear. Research has been evaluated with gender playing a role in speech convergence and divergence. Society as given norms that inhibit the expectancy of speech from women and men.

Even women’s speech exhibits marked differences compared to the speech of men, provided that women use more polite expressions and seem to adopt standard forms, while the latter tend to exercise their “right” to do as they see fit (Miller, 2005). Society norms have provided the benefit of men using divergence and women more commonly using convergence to gain approval for satisfaction. As Robin Alaska once said, “women collude in their own subordination by the way they speak. ” Speech divergence in the use of metaphors in literature, in that the message used in his kind of form is accessible only to those who are conversant with the code.

In this way, members of certain groups or communities can hold up walls. On one hand, exclude the ones who cannot penetrate the mind of the speaker or the writer, but on the other, help cultivate intimacy and a sense of community. Communication Accommodation Theory 6 Communication accommodation theory is a very practical and easy to understand concept. For the reason, we all have experienced the convergence and divergence experience. Either, we were the initiator or the responder. The theory illustrates its opportunity to be tested and observed to gain further extensive research.

With test having been conducted and both positive and negative feedback reported, both are good for a theory. It shows legitimacy that the theory is Just that but it also shows some relevance and true findings for the theory. This being said it makes the theory heuristic. Further research, observations, testing and extensions can be produced from this theory. In addition, the theory meets the scientific standards of explanation of the result, “twin objectives of scientific knowledge” (Griffin, 1991, p. 34). It maintains a simplistic concept and is easy to understand.

Having a theory that is testable and leaves room for growth and further expansion puts it in the category of credible, substantial theories. A weakness in the communication accommodation theory is that it leaves many questions unanswered. Questions such as the long term changes in behavior and where to draw the line of empathy and the theory are where the theory can be unclear (Infants, Rancher & Hammock, 2005). In order for individuals to understand the difference between the accommodation theory and empathy, they would have to eave the same definition and perception of what empathy is.

Communication Accommodation Theory In American History X

CAT- American History X In this paper, I will use CAT (Communication Accommodation Theory) to explain how convergence, divergence, and intergroup contact are illustrated within the film American History X. Convergence in CAT refers to the accommodativeness, the process concerned with how we both reduce and magnify communication differences between people in interaction. Talking about convergence, people tend to enhance interpersonal similarities and reduce uncertainties. The effect of converging towards or approximately to another can increase liking and enable him or her to be seen more competent and credible.

It includes switching to the other’s language or dialect, or assuming the same level of the other’s interruptions, speech rate, posture and so forth. When engaging conversation, if the individuals or in-group identity is viewed more than the out-group identity, there will be convergence and higher communication relational satisfaction. In the film American History X, there are several examples help to illustrate the concept of convergence: Firstly, the attitude and the way of thinking towards Derek are influence by his father who is being murdered and killed by two black people during his duty as a firefighter.

In one of the flashbacks in the film, Derek’s family gathered around at the dinner table, Derek mentions his black teachers, Bob Sweeney, who assigned the class to read a book which is written by an African American author. Derek’s father disapproval the book because he is personally having dissatisfaction about his job with two black people got approved to his team. He explains the facts of how the black people in their society and neibourhood would threaten their life and verbally assume Derek is supporting his point of view. All these influences Derek after his father died.

He starts to believe that the problems of the society is all race related. Started from that point, Derek strongly stereotypes his ethnic identity because of his father’s prejudices towards the minorities in his society and the reason for his father’s death. His convergence mixed with stereotyping leads to over accommodation which is viewed as disrespectful to his whole family both verbally and nonverbally. Second example of convergence is another flashback in the movie. Derek along with his brother Daniel and girlfriend Stacey gathered a large group of white racism gangs in the parking lot.

Derek was having a speech to the whole group about the new immigration and unfairness about the distribution on the resources towards whites and other ethics. After the speech, they destroyed a market which the owner is an Asian. They almost broke everything in the store and beaten up the people inside. The whole actions show that the group of white gangs is trying to show their strong social power to those who has lower power in the society. Besides, the group of white gangs tends to converge to signal their common ethnic and social identities.

In another flashback scene, when Derek was in the prison, he tried to find the group who has the similarity with him base on the tattoo on his body. He lay down and worked out in the area where the others ethic prisoners were staying and he threaten them away. Finally he found the group and he is one of the in-group members. Here Derek tends to converge as he wants to gain approval by a group of people with similarity in the prison. He also wants to develop a closer relationship with the other members in his in-group that he didn’t meet before.

After three years, Derek gets released from the prison. Daniel’s appearance changes to a younger version of Derek, with shaved headed and tattoo. Derek seems to be frustrated about the tattoo on Daniel’s arm as he thought it would be a bad idea for Daniel to follow his steps and get involved all those racism stuffs. But Daniel says “I thought you would like it! ” Daniel tends to converge to gain approval and trust from his brother, he tends to develop a closer relationship with him as long as he thought they are sharing the common social identities.

Divergence in CAT refers to non-accommodativeness, to magnify the communicative differences. Divergence occurs when individuals desire to represent their in-group identity above others desire. It serves as a distinction to preserve dialect or vocabulary. Members of different ethnic groups often accentuate their identities by diverging from one another both verbally and nonverbally. Divergence can be particularly intense if people feel their identity is threatened and that the other group has historically and illegitimately discriminated against them.

If a person accommodates an out-group member in this situations, that person is named as cultural traitor. If the out-group identity is more noticeable than the in-group or individual identity, there will be divergence less satisfaction. Here are some examples help to illustrate the concept of divergence: When Derek was in the prison, he found his in-group member. Everything is going well till one day Derek find out one of the prisoner in-group member trade with a Mexican American ethic group member. He is disappointed and had never acknowledged the possibility of his in-group member could do wrong.

He shows his disapproval towards that member’s action nonverbally and walked away. In the next few days, Derek reveals to sit with his in-group for meals and he didn’t show any respect to his in-group. He started to play basketball with the other out-groups instead of gather with his in-group. By then, he offended the group’s leader of his own in-group and they turned on him and gang raped him in the shower. At first, Derek diverges from his in-group due to the actions of the member trading with the other out-group member. He thinks that is no different with cultural traitor.

Then his in-group members disapproval towards his demeanor, the gang raped accident happened to increasing the divergence. When he was attacked by those he once considered members of his in-group, Derek makes up his mind to leave the group after that as he thinks his social identity is being raped out because he had believed that could only be perpetrated by out-groups. After Derek is released from the prison, he went back to the party held by Cameron, who used to convince Derek to lead several violent acts. He starts off a fight with him due with the issue about his brother Daniel.

Derek blames Cameron is the one who giving them so much trouble and asked Cameron to leave them alone. Derek tends to diverge from his in-group to signal his disapproval towards Cameron’s actions and demeanors. He thinks Cameron is trying to put Daniel into hardship like him. Derek broke up with his girlfriend Stacey in that same party. Derek was trying to tell Stacey to leave the group with him together, but Stacey disagree as she thought Derek is in a popular position at that time and she personally doesn’t think there is any problem with the group. They turn out to be enemy.

They tend to diverge to signal relational dissatisfaction, Stacey think Derek changes a lot after he gets out from the prison and she thinks he loses his reputation because of what he did to her. In one of the flashbacks in the film, Derek’s family was gathering around with a Jewish man at the dinner table. They talked about the revolution which an Asian market was being destroyed, happened before when Derek, Daniel and Stacey were involved. The Jewish man has different point of view toward the whole racism activity with three of them. Derek started the get mad in the middle of the meal.

He thinks that the Jewish man is trying to get sexual benefit from his mother and he is a hater for Derek. Derek rudely asked him to get out of the house and never step into his house again. Derek tends to diverge as he wants to signal the relational dissatisfaction towards his mother and the Jewish also he wants to disapprove toward his actions in his house, being a hater for Derek. Intergroup contact theory indicates the perceptions of an out-group will change consistent with the perceptions one holds regarding a relationship one has with a member of that out-group.

Intergroup communication also maximized the presence of their group and will sometimes leads to a dissatisfied relationship. Here are some examples from American History X helps to explain the intergroup contact theory: During the work in the prison, Derek was assigned to work with an African American man who named Lamont. At first Derek refused to talk to him because of his strong stereotyping but Lamont was always trying to challenge Derek’s deep-set stereotypes. Most of the time for Lamont, it is more likely a one-side conversation.

Lamont worked around with Derek’s racist attitude by talking about some common interests for example women and the reason they are in prison. Along with the conflicts happened between Derek with his in-group, Derek realizes that those of the other ethnicities were much more like himself than he had imagined before. They become friends afterwards and on the day that Derek got released, they met each other and Derek says to Lamont “I think part of the reason that I could get out is because of you. ” Derek feels thankful to him. His strong stereotyping is lost.

Another example is after Derek was being raped by his in-group member; Derek was helpless and feels utterly alone. He lost his cultural identity to cling to and is not belongs to any of the groups. While he was staying in the medical room, his former African American English teacher, Bob Sweeny, came to visit him. Derek seeks helps from him. Bob was willing to help him and he helped him to see how his actions have affected his younger brother Daniel. These two examples show that Derek has changed his attitude towards an out-group after he tried to communicate with them. Stereotyping also reduces for Derek.

He tends to have a positively relationship with the out-groups which is the aims of intergroup contact theory. American History X does not only explain the convergence, divergence and intergroup contact theory in CAT (Communication Accommodation Theory), but it also explains more theories in interpersonal and intercultural communication. Convergence, divergence and intergroup are all related to the communication between an in-group and out-group. The film helps to illustrate some facts that also happening in the real life that we have to face and most of the time, the way that we could deal with them is by communication.

Communication Accommodation Theory Critical Essay

Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT) states that people adjust their communication to others due to various reasons: seek for listener’s approval, maintain positive social identity and wanting to achieve communication efficiency.

According to Giles, people accommodate their speeches and behaviors more to the people they found attracted to and who have more similar beliefs and attitudes with them. Giles suggested that people use perception and evalution in conversations, which means people observe and interpret message before they decide how to act in a conversation.Moreover, people who has a lower social status is often more likely to accommodate to and guided by people who are from higher social status. People also perform their behaviors according to norms and appropriateness, where they try to reach the expectations of behaviors in conversations. CAT suggests several ways when people adapt during conversations: convergence, divergence and overaccommodation. People may adjust themselves in order to highlight similar behaviors to others or distinguish themselves from others.Convergence is a strategy used to adapt another’s behaviors.

Usually people converge toward stereotypes. Divergence is used to emphasize differences between communicators. It is a way to maintain one’s social identity and power status. Overaccommodation means to overdo in regulating to others even acting from good intentions. What Giles suggested in the theory is more than only showing us the reason we accommodate or Not accommodate to others in conversations. People use these tactics in order to maintain their social identities and statuses.It is especially important to minorities, whom are always expected to adjust to the mainstream.

This theory make them realize what they have been doing unconsciously and what created unjustice in society. Another phenomenon that the theory has suggested is that people sometimes over-accommodate in order to fit in a group. People try to be someone who they are not even partly similar. Learning this theory might allow them to realize it might not be a good idea to overly adjust.

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