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A communication theory based on the assumption that persons make sense of the world through systems of personal constructs.
Role Category Questionnaire (RCQ)
A free-response instrument used by constructivists to measure a person’s cognitive complexity in interpersonal communication.
Cognitive Complexity
A sophisticated set of mental constructs that enables a person to distinguish subtle differences among people.
The cognitive template or stencil we fit over social reality to order our impressions of people.
A component of cognitive complexity measured by the number of separate personality constructs used to describe someone on the RCQ.
Person-Centered Messages
Sophisticated communication that reflects an awareness of and adaptations to subjective, affective, and relational aspects of the communication contexts. Causally linked to cognitive complexity, person-centered messages are better able to accomplish multiple goals.
Procedural Record
A recollection of an action taken in a specific situation paired with its consequences.
Latitude of Acceptance
The range of ideas and statements that strike a person as reasonable and worthy of consideration.
Latitude of Rejection
The range of ideas and statements that a person finds objectionable and unreasonable.
Latitude of Noncommitment
The range of ideas and statements that a person finds neither objectionable nor acceptable.
The centrality or importance of an issue to a person’s life.
High Ego-Involvement
A frame of mind reached when a particular issue becomes extremely important to an individual. It is often accompanied by membership in a group with a known stand on the issue.
Social Judgment-Involvement
A term for the linkage between ego-involvement and perception.
A judgment that occurs when one perceives a message within the latitude of rejection as being more discrepant than it actually is from the anchor point.
The opposite of contrast, this judgment occurs when one perceives a message within the latitude of acceptance as being less discrepant than it actually is from the anchor point.
Anchor Point
One’s favored position within the latitude of acceptance, it secures all other thoughts about the topic.
Boomerang Effect
Sherif’s prediction that because people who are highly ego-involved have broad ranges of rejection, most messages that are aimed to persuade them and that fall within their latitudes of rejection are in danger of driving them further away from the desired position.
Reference Groups
Associations that members use to define their identities, these groups can bring about the most dramatic, widespread, and enduring changes in attitude.
The extent to which a person carefully thinks about the issue-relevant arguments contained in a persuasive communication.
Central Route
Cognitive processing that involves scrutiny of message content; message elaboration.
Peripheral Route
Cognitive processing that accepts or rejects a message based on nonrelevant cues as opposed to actively thinking about the issue.
Biased Elaboration
Top-down thinking, in which predetermined conclusions color the supporting data.
Objective Elaboration
Bottom-up thinking, in which the facts are scrutinized without bias.
Strong Argument
A message that generates favorable thoughts when heard and scrutinized.
Functional Perspective
A rationally based approach to small group communication that emphasizes requisite functions for reaching high-quality decisions.
Requisite Functions
The four specific task requirements for good decision making are problem analysis, goal setting, identification of alternatives, and evaluation of positive and negative consequences.
Positive Bias
The attribute of some group tasks in which spotting the favorable characteristics of alternative choices is more important than identifying the negative qualities.
Negative Bias
The attribute of some group tasks in which the unattractive characteristics of choice options outweigh positive attributes.
Promotive Communication
Interaction that moves a group along the goal path by redirecting attention to decision-making functions.
Disruptive Communication
Interaction that diverts, retards, or frustrates group members’ ability to achieve the task functions.
Counteractive Communication
Interaction that members use to get the group back on track.
Function-Oriented Interaction Coding System (FOICS)
Hirokawa’s coding system for a group discussion that classifies the function of specific statements.
Functional Utterance
An uninterrupted statement of a single member that appears to perform a specific function within the group interaction process.
Reflective Thinking
Paralleling a doctor’s treatment regimen, Dewey’s rationally based, systematic process of decision making is the prototype of the functional perspective.
An ancient Greek teacher and scholar whose Rhetoric represents the first systematic study of public speaking.
Early Greek speakers and teachers of public speaking whose training was practically useful yet underdeveloped theoretically.
Forensic Rhetoric
Judicial speech centering on accusation and defense.
Deliberative Rhetoric
Political speech centering on future policy.
Epideictic Rhetoric
Ceremonial speech centering on praise and blame.
Logical proof, which comes from the line of argument in the speech.
Ethical proof, which comes from the speaker’s intelligence, character, and goodwill toward the audience as these personal characteristics are revealed through the message.
The general and specific stock arguments marshaled by speakers to persuade an audience.
An incomplete version of a formal deductive syllogism that is created by leaving out a premise that is already accepted by the audience or omitting an obvious conclusion.
Emotional proof, which comes from the feeling the speech draws from the hearers.
Canons of Rhetoric
Previously defined in the public rhetoric introduction, they are the principal divisions of the art of persuasion established by ancient rhetoricians: invention, arrangement, style, delivery, and memory.
The speaker’s “hunt” for arguments that will be effective in a particular speech.
Cultivation Theory
A theory that suggests heavy television viewing creates an exaggerated belief in a mean and scary world.
Dramatic Violence
Depicting overt physical force against the self or others, or compelling others to do something against their will through threats of pain, injury, or death.
Light Viewer
A person who watches up to two hours of television per day.
Heavy Viewer
A person who watches four or more hours of television per day.
Television Type
A synonym for the heavy viewer.
Cultivation Differential
The difference in the percent giving the “television answer” within comparable groups of light and heavy viewers.
The Mean World Syndrome
The cynical mind-set of general mistrust of others subscribed to by heavy television viewers.
The process by which heavy viewers develop a common socially conservative outlook through constant exposure to the same images and labels.
New Populism
The product of mainstreaming, a conservative political outlook common among heavy viewers.
The process by which congruence of symbolic violence on television and real-life experiences of violence amplifies the fear of a mean and scary world.
A statistical procedure that blends the results of independent, empirical research studies exploring the same relationship between two variables, such as the correlation between the amount of television viewing and fear of violence.
Agenda-Setting Theory
The ability of the mass media to transfer the salience of items on their agendas to the public agenda.
Key news editors who determine the content of the major news publications and outlets.
Interest Aggregations
Interest groups or clusters of people who demand center stage for their one overriding concern; single-issue advocates.
Need for Orientation
A willingness to let the media shape one’s thinking arising from high relevance and uncertainty.
Index of Curiosity
A synonym for need for orientation.
The process of calling attention to some aspects of reality while obscuring others, which might lead to different reactions; the selection of a restricted number of thematically related attributes for inclusion in the media agenda when a particular object is discussed.
Media Frame
The central organizing idea for news context that supplies a content and suggests what the issue is through the use of selection, emphasis, exclusion, and elaboration.
Agenda Setting of Attributes
The second level of agenda setting, this process involves the transfer of salience of a bundle of attributes that the media associate with an attitude object to the features of the image the media projects to the audience.
Media Malady Effect
Negative economic headlines have been found to have a significant and negative impact on subsequent consumer sentiment and leading economic indicators.
Public Opinion
Attitudes one can express in public without isolating oneself.
Spiral of Silence
The increasing pressure that people feel to conceal their views when they believe they are in the minority.
Quasi-Statistical Organ
A sixth sense that provides trustworthy information about what society in general is thinking and feeling.
Pluralistic Ignorance
People’s mistaken assumption that everyone thinks like they do as a result of a disproportionate mix of viewpoints presented by the media compared to their relative strength in society.
Train/Plane Test
A test devised by Noelle-Neumann to determine whether people are willing to speak out in support of their viewpoint.
Hard-Core Nonconformists
Noelle-Neumann’s term for those who resist the pressure to be silent, but because they have been overpowered and have nothing to lose.
Intellectuals, artists, and reformers who hold minority ideas that are ahead of the times, but are not subject to the spiral of silence. They seek public approval and are convinced they will get it in the future.
A person who is not a member of a cultural in-group.
Anxiety/Uncertainty Management Theory (AUM)
This approach to intercultural communication focuses on encounters between cultural in-groups and strangers.
Effective Communication
The process of minimizing misunderstandings.
Unconscious Incompetence
The state of being unaware that we are misinterpreting others’ behavior.
Conscious Incompetence
The state of being aware that we are misinterpreting others’ behavior but not doing anything about it.
Conscious Competence
The state of thinking about our communication and continually working at changing what we do in order to become more effective.
Unconscious Competence
The state of development at which we communicate effectively without thinking about it.
A component of facework competence, it’s a recognition that things are not always what they seem, and the need to make a conscious choice to seek multiple perspectives on the same event.
A cognitive variable based on Berger’s uncertainty reduction theory that includes the doubts we have about our ability to predict the outcome of our encounters with strangers as well as to explain past behaviors.
An affective variable that includes the feeling of being uneasy, tense, worried, or apprehensive about what might happen.
A metaphor for our public self-image.
The enactment of specific verbal and nonverbal messages that help maintain and restore face loss, and to uphold and hold face gain.
Collectivistic Culture
A core dimension of cultural variability; people identify with a larger group that is responsible for providing care in exchange for group loyalty, thus acting from a we-identity rather than the I-identity found in individualistic cultures.
Individualistic Culture
A core dimension of cultural variability, people look out for themselves and their immediate families, thus acting from an I-identity rather than the we-identify found in collectivistic cultures.
Independent Self
The self-construal of individuals who conceive of themselves as relatively autonomous from others; I-identity.
Interdependent Self
The self-construal of individuals who conceive of themselves as interconnected with many others; we-identity.
Hazel Markus and Shinobu Kitayama’s term for the degree to which people conceive of themselves as relatively autonomous from, or connected to, others.
The self-concerned facework strategy used to preserve autonomy and defend against personal loss of freedom.
The other-concerned facework strategy used to defend and support another person’s need for inclusion.
A method of conflict management whereby an individual withdraws from open discussion.
A method of conflict management whereby an individual accommodates the wishes of the other.
A method of conflict management whereby an individual bargains to establish a middle way.
A method of conflict management whereby an individual competes to win.
A method of conflict management whereby an individual seeks to integrate information to find a solution.
Emotional Expression
A method of conflict management whereby an individual lets his or her feelings show.
Passive Aggression
A method of conflict management whereby an individual tries to indirectly elicit a particular solution.
Third-Party Help
A method of conflict management whereby disputing parties seek the aid of a third party.
The most important dimension of facework competence, it involves being informed about individualistic and collectivistic cultures, self-construals, face-concerns, and conflict styles.
Interaction Skill
A component of facework competence, interaction skill concerns one’s ability to communicate appropriately, effectively and adaptively in a given situation.

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