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Constructivism by Jesse  Delia - Michie's case analysis
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  • 1. WHAT MAKES AN INDIVIDUAL PUSH THROUGH WITH HIS/HER COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY? 1 <br />What Makes An Individual Push Through With His/Her Cognitive Complexity?<br />A Case Analysis<br />Michie Lorenz B. Basco<br />Malayan Colleges Laguna<br />Author’s Note<br />This paper was prepared for Communication 101, Section B98, taught by Ma’am Joahna T. Eduarte.<br />WHAT MAKES AN INDIVIDUAL PUSH THROUGH HIS/HER COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY? 2<br />Abstract<br />Over the years of communication, people talk through their ideas and that’s what makes them build up their cognitive complexity. But some people have a hard time to communicate like thinking what to say next. This is due to the differences in culture, personality, language, experiences, and inborn neurobiological influences. This case analysis was subjected to a movie entitled Home Alone and the theory applied was Constructivism by Jesse Delia. The paper observes how an individual uses his/her cognitive complexity in communication situations and in times of making quick decisions. This observation of cognitive development directs the different responses of an individual to a message and needs further explanation of when high cognitive complexity should be pushed through even without the help of other people.<br />WHAT MAKES AN INDIVIDUAL PUSH THROUGH WITHHIS/HER COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY? 3 <br />What Makes An Individual Push Through With His/Her Cognitive Complexity?<br />A Case Analysis<br /> Constructivism developed by Jesse Delia, the former chair of the department of speech communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explains the ability of an individual to communicate by means of cognitive thinking and being aware of person-centered messages. Person-centered message is a tailor-made message for a specific individual and context; reflects the communicator’s ability to anticipate response and adjust accordingly (Griffin, E., 2009, p. 100). Several tests can be done to determine the degree of cognitive complexity of an individual. Those tests require thinking as well as remembering a particular person or thing you have encountered before. The core assumption of constructivism is that “the people who display better cognitive complexity will be able to respond easily to a communication situation and can even solve problems faster than those who lack cognitive complexity”. This case analysis is aiming to prove that cognitive complexity is being pushed through in times of making plans and decisions in order to meet a particular goal. The case was actually about a boy named Kevin McCallister who has the capacity to create person-centered messages by taking the role of the other as being the man left alone and implementing audience awareness as if the two bad guys are just kids like him. He was able to respond on the situation that triggered him to do quick decisions and plan for an action. This situation may lead to the following questions:<br />
    • How will an individual make the people believe in what he/she is trying to say regardless of his/her age?
    • 2. Can making of sophisticated message plans still be effective in gaining a better cognitive complexity even though you’re not really an intelligent person?
    • 3. Can cognitive complexity be developed?
    The actions of an individual to any situations show the degree of his/her cognitive complexity plus the way he/she treats other people and vice versa. The way a person constructs messages that can trigger the one he/she is talking to plays an important role. But normally, getting inside of our head is the first thing we do before saying something that will have a big<br />WHAT MAKES AN INDIVIDUAL PUSH THROUGH WITH HIS/HER COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY? 4<br />point in communicating with other people. The messages that we are saying shows our ability in knowing how to anticipate response and adjust easily.<br />How will an individual make the people believe in what he/she is trying to say regardless of his/her age?<br /> An individual can make the people believe by the way he/she indentifies the things around him/her. In the case of the boy in the movie, he took the role of a man to defend himself against the two bad guys. He portrayed himself in having a high cognitive complexity by the way he made the plans to escape and since he was in an unsafe situation, he pushed through his cognitive complexity to understand those bad guys. The message production of the boy is made possible by microcognitive process because he appeared to be very conscious by the obstacles he made for the bad guys to have a difficulty in entering their house. In the movie, the boy used the voice of a man on a television that fitted on the situation to fool. He really put himself into a man’s shoes. <br />Constructivism recognizes that constructs have social origins and are learned through interaction with other people (Littlejohn & Foss, 2009, p 137). The way a person interacts can determine his/her cognitive complexity. The way he carries himself, speaks, reason out, and understands things can contribute to the reliability of the message he is saying in communicating with other people. It’s really an advantage to have a high cognitive complexity especially in meeting people in terms of business and research. The persuasion lies within you because you should know how to deal with a situation and adjust accordingly to the responses of other people. <br /> According to Constructivist Theory, high performance and promotion reflect a continual use of person-centered communication that seeks to achieve multiple goals with customers and co-workers (Griffin, E., 2009, p 105). Cognitive complex people use complex persuasive messages to meet multiple goals at the same time. For instance, if an individual wants his/her friend to join an organization – to make him/her join perhaps – you might have at least two objectives in one message: show him the benefits you are getting from the organization and build up his/her self esteem. On the other hand, in the case of the boy in the movie, he wanted to achieve multiple goals in a single action. That was the time when he made several obstacles. He assumed the places where the bad guys would go after trying to break an obstacle. <br />WHAT MAKES AN INDIVIDUAL PUSH THROUGH HIS/HER COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY? 5 <br />Can making of sophisticated message plans still be effective in gaining a better cognitive complexity even though you’re not really an intelligent person?<br /> Charles Berger (1997), a professor of communication at the University of California – Davis, stated that “cognitive plans provide the guidance necessary for constructing and deploying messages to reach goals” (as cited in Littlejohn & Foss, 2009, p. 141). Cognitive complexity can be gained by an individual not just in academics but also in situations wherein you need to be wise and be sure of making plans about what are you going to do. Jesse Delia (2003) emphasizes that "some people stay open; they have new experiences. As those experiences reshape their constructs, they change” (Jesse Delia’s Constructivism Video). It’s really about the inferences you make in your social world and by being adept in every situation you are dealing with. For instance, some criminals have no good education but since they’re always encountering problems that require a cognitive thinking, they were able to do complex messages that have multiple goals. <br /> Normally, we think that older people are more intellectual than kids. But it’s not what the movie illustrated. The boy was actually the one who showed better cognitive complexity than the two bad guys who are older than him. Perhaps, the boy has the capacity to put himself into other’s shoes and was trying to convince the two bad guys that he was not left alone. But there are some criminals who become successful and it’s because they are just being wise despite the fact that they have no good educational attainment.<br /> Cognitive complexity should not be viewed as a personality trait because it is not best conceptualized as predisposing or motivating individuals to act in particular ways. Rather, cognitive complexity is better understood as an information processing variable (“Cognitive Complexity”, n.d.). Having good strategies of persuasion and a cognitive complexity would result to a successful plan of actions to a communication situation. In some circumstances, you may attain cognitive complexity especially if it is a social survival skill. You don’t need research materials to look for answers when your life is at risk, you just seek information from your own cognitive thinking process in order to survive. An individual may receive a compliment if he made the right decision to a critical situation interpreting that he/she has cognitive complexity but he/she may also receive a criticism if he/she made a wrong decision <br />WHAT MAKES AN INDIVIDUAL PUSH THROUGH HIS/HER COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY? 6<br />interpreting that he/she lacks cognitive complexity. Despite of this point of view, an individual may lessen the possibility of making wrong decisions if he/she is intellectual from the very start of communication.<br />Can cognitive complexity be developed?<br /> For both Kelly and Werner, development occurs in specific domains of activity and involvement. The degree of elaboration in any subsystem of constructs is partly a function of general maturational processes, but even more a function of socialization experiences and degree of activity with the domain of events for which the particular subsystem of constructs is developed (as cited in “Cognitive Complexity”, n.d.). If an individual interacts with different kinds of people, he/she may develop his/her cognitive complexity depending on the degree of thinking he/she usually uses in communicating. Cognitive complexity can also be gained through experiences. If an individual encounters a situation that needs a critical thinking and he lacks cognitive complexity, he may develop a good cognitive complexity the next time he will encounter the same situation again that requires a different approach. It will challenge him/her to think more about the situation. <br /> An individual may attain cognitive complexity because of his/her social world. Then, cognitive complexity is nurtured by the way other people communicate to a specific individual. Through learning experiences, it will be easy for you to process a message if you already have the knowledge about it. Because of some inborn neurobiological influences like the structure of your brain and if you don’t have the structure of a genius mind, you may encounter difficulties in processing a message but because of learning through experiences you can still develop cognitive complexity even though from the very start you don’t possess this kind of thinking. <br /> The boy in the movie, since he was already used to in making decisions that showed cognitive complexity, it will be easy for him to respond to any situation because of his experiences. Apparently, he has a good social world because of the way he interpreted the intentions of the two bad guys and because of this, he made plans that will beat those guys. In order for a kid to develop cognitive complexity, one should talk to him/her as if they were in the same age. If the kid did something wrong, one should not only scold the kid but rather use complex messages by explaining the consequences, intentions, and feelings of the wrong actions. This proves that creating complex messages have set of goals. <br /> WHAT MAKES AN INDIVIDUAL PUSH THROUGH HIS/HER COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY? 7 <br /> <br /> Once cognitive complexity developed, it will lead you to the process in which you will become appropriate in making person-centered messages. The culture plays a major role in the theory constructivism because it will tell you what kind of social world an individual has. Then, cognitive complexity is nurtured because of culture. The way you treat other people and the way they treat you should implement complex messages because it will lead to a persuasion that will show the degree of your cognitive complexity. Good culture leads to cognitive complexity and will eventually have good result of communication. <br />The way other people talk to an individual can make him/her think freely if the messages involved require critical thinking such as answering a question and explaining a term. What you actually do in a communication situation depends not just on stimulus-response patterns, but also on the mental operations used to manage information (Littlejohn & Foss, 2009, p 55). The more an individual constructs ideas in his/her mind the more cognitive complexity appears. <br />The knowledge of constructivism is only a fraction of the understanding of communication theory. As mankind continues to attain wisdom studying ourselves, it would be of great advantage to study one’s interpretation of meaning (“Constructivism for Communication Theory,” 2003). Kids are<br /> WHAT MAKES AN INDIVIDUAL PUSH THROUGH HIS/HER COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY? 8<br />taking the pleasure of exploring and that’s the time they acquire the capacity to learn even if it’s already above their level of thinking. Some people have better cognitive complexity because during their childhood years, they had given the chance to explore especially in reading of educational books. Probably, their parents were always giving them books that really put them into a greater possibility of being gifted positively. <br />The constructivist theory is based on symbolic interactionism and George Kelly's personal construct theory. Jesse Delia, Daniel and Barbara J. O'Keefe of Northwestern University conceptualized it from these two interrelated theories to understand how human beings construct meaning (“Communication Theories: Constructivism,” 2010). Basically, these theories are more on constructing messages that may lead to a better understanding of other people. The way an individual constructs information determines his/her cognitive thinking process. <br />Having a better understanding in the perceptions of other people and being able to frame their messages represents cognitive complexity. The experiences of a person give much importance in communication especially in constructing messages that may lead to a good strategy of persuasion. The responses of an individual may depend on what kind of situation he/she encounters. Cognitive complexity shows that you’re not just an intellectual person in responding to any situation but also being wise when you’re life is at risk and this perception makes an individual push through his/her cognitive complexity. The theory Constructivism really supports the case because it involves the capacity of an individual to respond and interpret messages which was his cognitive complexity. Making this theory merged with other theories such as Symbolic Interactionism and Personal Construct Theory can also be done because these are also focusing on the message. <br />WHAT MAKES AN INDIVIDUAL PUSH THROUGH HIS/HER COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY? 9 <br />References<br />Cognitive Complexity, (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ic.arizona.edu/ic/wrightr/const <br />/bu98b.htm<br />Communication Theories: Constructivism, (2010). Retrieved from http://www.associatedcontent <br />.com/article /1258406/communication_theories_constructivism.html?cat=47<br />Constructivism for Communication Theories, (2003). Retreived from http://www.wongkeenhing <br />.com/2006/03/08/communication-theories-constructivism/<br />Delia, J., Burleson, B., & Applegate, J. (2003). Jesse Delia’s Constructivism [Video file], <br />Retrieved from http://novella.mhhe.com/sites/007248392x/student_view0/ <br />chapter8/video_quotes.html<br />Griffin, E. (2009). New York: McGraw Hill. Person-Centered Messages – Interpersonal Edge. <br />Beneficial Effects of Person-Centered Messages. A First Look at Communication <br />Theory. 104-105.<br />Littlejohn, S. & Foss, K. (2009). Printed in the Philippines by MG Reprographics, Inc. <br />Sociopsychological Tradition. Constructivism. Planning Theory. Communication Theory <br />Philippine Edition. 55, 137, & 141.<br /> <br />