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Holly Blackstead

Chapter 1: Communication Theory
The first chapter aims to challenge definitions of the communication process. The authors
pose the idea that most definitions of communication are limiting, and are too technical. They
state that definitions can be limiting based on the level of observation, the stance it takes on
intentionality, and normative judgement. Level of observation is described as “the scope of what
is included in the definition”, therefore if the definition does not mention a specific action then it
would not be considered communication. Intentionality is whether the message was sent with
purpose and consciously by the sender. Lastly, normative judgement refers to wither or not the
message was successfully received and interpreted. The authors prove the point that
communication cannot be so easily defined as it usually is in most textbooks.
The authors do go on the point out specific contexts of communication. These were
cognitive, individual, interpersonal, intercultural, persuasive, group, organizational, mediated,
and mass communication. Each of these contexts has specific theories associated with them.
Another important aspect of communication is the competence one achieves while
communicating. In communication it focuses on the effectiveness and appropriateness.
Effectiveness being if you achieved what you intended while communicating, and
appropriateness is if it was socially acceptable.
Finally, the chapter looks at concepts, models, and theories. Theories give us a
perspective to view the world. There are three types of theory we are going to focus on for the
purpose of communication and business. They are commonsense, working theory, and scholarly.
Commonsense theories are created by individuals based on their own experiences or passed
down from people they have formed close relationships with. Working theories are made in
professions in order to achieve the best results while performing a task. Scholarly theories are
formed through systematic research.
Theories must be evaluated and be challenged. We evaluate theories to determine their
usefulness in people’s personal and professional life. The basis for evaluating theories would be
on accuracy, practicality, succinctness, consistency, and acuity. As why we use the word theory
and not concept our model it is because a concept it is an agreed-upon aspect of reality, like time
and love. A concept doesn’t tell us why we believe in time or love, whereas a theory would. A
model can be used in four different ways which would be confusing.
The ideas and notions brought up within the chapter provide a framework for determining
our own communication theories. I believe the word theory is the perfect term for what we are
trying to convey because theories can influence our perceptions, identities, behavior, and
expectations. Therefore, if we believe a specific communication process theory it will influence
the way we behave when communicating along with our perception of what communicating is.
The contexts for communication are also important because our communication adapts to
the environment we are in in order to achieve competence. For example, we would not
communicate in an interpersonal context while we are giving a speech or proposal at work. At
work we are performing in the organizational context. Therefore, it is important to have theories
that look into why we communicate differently in different situations. Communication
competence is also important when focuses on context because there are different social
expectations which ties into your appropriateness.
I think the chapter was interesting because in my gender communication class we are also
looking at theories. The chapter mentions that a theory should provide insight into how or why
we experience things in a certain way. In my gender communication class, we are looking at how
theories influence what we believe to be true about the way gender is developed. We are looking
at biological theories, interpersonal theories, psychological theories, and critical theories. For
example, a biological theory is focused on genetics, brain structure, and hormones, meaning that
these factors are what makes you either male or female, feminine, or masculine. The theory you
hold to be influences the way you behave. For example, during class we mentioned that if you
are somebody that believes nature to be true you will act different in a relationship than a person
that believes nurture to be true.
Would believing in nature over nurture effect the way you communicate?
If you believe in the cultivation theory do you act and perceive the world differently that
somebody that doesn’t? Why?
What characteristics make somebody more communication competent than another?