COMM 360 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Social Penetration Theory, Social Exchange Theory, The Strongest

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Class Notes:
Social Penetration Theory
-Altman and Taylor
Used to find/understand Relational Closeness
Relational Closeness: developed through self-disclosure
They use an onion to describe this
Also referred to as the onion theory
Our personalities are like an onion
o The first layer is our public persona
o We dive into it to find our inner core
There are some rules to self-disclosure
Its reciprocal (goes both ways) has to be exchanged
o Happen in early stages of relationship (because you’re learning about each other )
It is rapid
o In the beginning of the relationship. Its all new simple information like favorite
movie etc. Its like the question game you play when you first meet people
o It slows down as you get closer to the center
o This one goes outside the onion. Is gradual withdrawal
This self-disclosure leads to intimacy ( not just in a romantic way)
Requires two different types of penetration
1) Depth
o Getting into details
o Getting to know specifics about one thing (getting deep in the onion)
2) Breadth
o Goes around the onion
o A little superficial but covers multiple topics
It gets a little more complicated: Atman and Taylor say this borrows a lot from Social Exchange
Social Exchange theory : we are more willing to be in a relationship when the benefits
outweigh the cost
o They use this to understand how likely we are to disclose
The steps to this :
Relational Outcome:
o We predict whether this will be a good interaction
o Rewards minus cost
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