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Social Penetration Theory


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Chapter 8

Published in: Technology, Sports

Social Penetration Theory

  1. 1. SOCIAL PENETRATION THEORY Of Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor
  2. 2. MAIN IDEAS <ul><li>Closeness develops if people proceed in gradual and orderly fashion from superficial to more intimate levels of exchange </li></ul><ul><li>Personality is like a multi-layered onion with public self on the outer layer and private self at the core </li></ul>
  3. 3. MAIN IDEAS (ctd) <ul><li>Closeness (penetration) is achieved through self-disclosure </li></ul><ul><li>Self-disclosure risks vulnerability </li></ul><ul><li>Layers of the onion are tougher towards the center </li></ul><ul><li>Depth of penetration is degree of intimacy </li></ul>
  4. 4. SELF DISCLOSURE <ul><li>Peripheral items are disclosed earlier and more regularly </li></ul><ul><li>Self-disclosure is reciprocal, esp. at first </li></ul><ul><li>Penetration is rapid at first but slows down because of social norms and stalling </li></ul><ul><li>De-penetration is also gradual </li></ul><ul><li>Intimacy requires depth AND breadth of disclosure </li></ul>
  5. 5. REGULATING CLOSENESS <ul><li>Regulation by means of rewards and punishments </li></ul><ul><li>People try to forecast outcomes of social exchange </li></ul><ul><li>If perceived mutual benefits outweigh costs of vulnerability, self-disclosure will proceed </li></ul><ul><li>People seek to maximize benefits and minimize costs. Note: nature of benefits may change over time; at first, physical appearance, similar backgrounds, extent of agreement rate high. </li></ul><ul><li>The higher we value an outcome, the more attractive the behavior that will make it happen </li></ul>
  6. 6. COMPARISON LEVELS <ul><li>The comparison level (CL) is the threshold above which an outcome seems attractive; is related to relational history </li></ul><ul><li>Comparison level (CLalt – comparison level of alternatives ) is affected by other possible relationships available </li></ul><ul><li>Comparisons are made between present realities and desired outcomes </li></ul>
  7. 7. CRITIQUE <ul><li>Theory not fully supported by data </li></ul><ul><li>Highest reciprocity may occur at middle levels; may be cycles of disclosure and reserve </li></ul><ul><li>Needs take account of gender (males less open) </li></ul><ul><li>Disclosure can increase as relationship deteriorates </li></ul><ul><li>Single comparison (CL) index too simplistic </li></ul><ul><li>In close relationships, self-centeredness lessens </li></ul><ul><li>Onion metaphor: sexual; disclosure is active , usually symmetrical ; self is not simply revealed but is constructed </li></ul>
  8. 8. CRITIQUE (ctd) <ul><li>“Penetration” metaphor unhelpful (power and sexual overtones) </li></ul><ul><li>Suggests that the self is undivided, all-knowable rather than formed through interaction: disclosure changes self </li></ul><ul><li>Onion metaphor suggests sameness not diversity </li></ul>