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Social Penetration Theory

Autor:   •  March 30, 2011  •  Essay  •  821 Words (4 Pages)  •  2,911 Views

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Social Penetration Theory

The social penetration theory was created by Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor as a way to predict the gradual progression of discloser in human communication. The social penetration theory is a set of layers that attempt to predict the slow process of going from strangers to the closest of companions. Social penetration is defined as, "the process of developing deeper intimacy thru mutual self-discloser and other forms of vulnerability"(Griffin). The theory states that everyone has personality structure. A personality structure is defined as, "the layers of beliefs and feelings about yourself, others, and the world" (Griffin). These layers surround your self-image and must be broken down one at a time. The closer the layers are to your self-concept the more intimate the details and thus the harder it is to break thru. When one breaks thru a layer this is known a depth of penetration and the deeper the depth of penetration is the more intimate the relationship. This theory is best described as an onion having its layers peeled away. The outer layers of this onion consist of your attitudes that you don't mind sharing with the world. The interlayer's of the onion are thing that are a little more personal, like your beliefs and the core of the onion is your self-concept, or the values

you hold most dear. A person has thousands of attitudes, hundreds of beliefs, and about 12 values (Griffin).

This theory can be found all around us because everybody has created multiple layers of attitudes, beliefs and values that make a person an individual. These layers can be extremely difficult or reasonably easy to penetrate. In my own life I have found this theory at work. I have known this girl for at least the past ten years. We went to middle school together and then to high school. Throughout all of middle school and most of high school she was just one of many people that I knew as an acquaintance. Our conversations consisted of greetings and questions, like, how was your weekend and did you understand that assignment we had. After years of being stuck in the attitudes layer we finally penetrated the beliefs layer around our junior year of high school. We had similar political and religious beliefs and because of this we became really good friends and soon after that we started dating. After dating


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