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Forms of FTAs
• Deliver FTA badly or directly, without polite action
• Deliver FTA along with some form of positive politeness
• Deliver FTA along with some form of negative politeness
• Deliver FTA indirectly, off the record
• Not deliver FTA at all
I would like
I would appreciate it if you
could look at my grade
again. Other students said
you are really nice about
I’m really sorry. I know
you’re busy, but could I
have a moment of your
time? I would really
appreciate it if you could
look at my grade again
I wonder how I
will get to town
this evening to
pick up my dry
Oh, I wasn’t
asking for it
Uncertainty Reduction Theory
Central to UCR theory is the assumption that when strangers meet, their
primary concern is one of uncertainty reduction or increasing predictability
about the behaviour of both themselves and others in the interaction.
• Anticipation of Future Interaction: We know we will see them again
• Incentive Value: They have something we want
• Deviance: They act in a weird way
Uncertainty Reduction: To Predict and
• Increased knowledge of what kind of person another is, which provides an
improved forecast of how a future interaction will turn out
Axiom 1 - Verbal Communication
As the amount of verbal communication between strangers increases, the level
of uncertainty decreases, and as a result, verbal communication increases.
Axiom 2 - Nonverbal Warmth
As nonverbal affiliative expressiveness increases, uncertainty levels will
decrease. Decreases in uncertainty level will cause increases in nonverbal
Axiom 3 - Information Seeking
Information seeking: High levels of uncertainty cause increases in informationseeking behavior. As uncertainty levels decline, information-seeking behavior
Axiom 4 - Self Disclosure
High levels of uncertainty in a relationship cause decreases in the intimacy level
of communication content. Low levels of uncertainty produce high levels of
Axiom 5 - Reciprocity
High levels of uncertainty produce high rates of reciprocity. Low levels of
uncertainty produce low levels of reciprocity.
Axiom 6 - Similarity
Similarities between persons reduce uncertainty, while dissimilarities produce
increases in uncertainty.
Axiom 7 - Liking
Increases in uncertainty level produce decreases in liking; decreases in
uncertainty produce increases in liking.
Axiom 8 - Shared Networks
Shared communication networks reduce uncertainty, while a lack of shared
networks increases uncertainty.
If A = B
and B = C
then A =
A Proposition that logically and necessarily follows from two axioms
• If similarity reduces uncertainty (axiom 6)
• and reduced uncertainty increases liking (axiom 7)
• then similarity and liking are positively related
Coping With Uncertain Responses
• Seeking Information
• Choosing Plan Complexity
• Hierarchy Hypothesis
Impression formation by
observing a person
interacting with others
Impression formation by
asking a third party about a
discussion with a person
Choosing Plan Complexity
Hierarchy of Hypothesis
“When it’s obvious that the person we’re talking to has failed to
grasp what we are saying, our inclination is to repeat the same
message - but this time louder”
- Charles Berger
• UNCERTAINTY REDUCTION THEORY
• Uncertainty as the key communication variable
• Goal - Closeness or relational satisfaction.
• Centers around 7 or 8 axioms
• UNCERTAINTY/ANXIETY MANAGEMENT THEORY
• Elevated anxiety to an equal status
Lower and Upper Thresholds for Fear and
prods us to
Not feel bored
go on auto
pilot. Likely to
The process of
thinking in new
open to new
Critique - Kathy Kellermann
Theorem 17 is flawed
A.The tight logical structure of the theory doesn't allow us to reject
one theorem without questioning the axioms behind it.
B.In the case of theorem 17, axioms 3 and 7 must also be suspect.
Kellermann and Rodney Renolds
A. Challenge the motivational assumption of axiom 3.
B.They also have undermined the claim that motivation to search for
information is increased by anticipation of future interaction,
incentive value, and deviance.
A. Challenges Berger’s claim that uncertainty reduction is the key to
understanding early encounters.
B. He believes that predicted outcome value more accurately explains
communication in early encounters.
C. Berger insists that you can't predict outcome values until you