Social Interaction Theory in Communication
Communication is a complex process that involves the exchange of messages between two or more individuals. Social Interaction Theory is an approach to communication that emphasizes the importance of interpersonal relationships and social context in shaping communication behavior.
What Is Social Interaction Theory?
Social Interaction Theory is a theory that explains how people interact with each other through communication. This theory suggests that people are influenced by their social context and the relationships they have with others. In other words, our communication behavior is shaped by our interactions with others.
The theory was first introduced by George Herbert Mead, an American philosopher, sociologist, and psychologist in the early 20th century. According to Mead, social interaction is the process through which individuals develop their sense of self and learn how to interact with others. He believed that our sense of self is formed through our interactions with others and that our communication behavior is influenced by these interactions.
The Key Concepts of Social Interaction Theory
There are several key concepts associated with Social Interaction Theory:
- The self: According to Mead, the self is a product of social interaction. Our sense of self develops through our interactions with others and our understanding of how we fit into society.
- Symbols: Symbols are used in communication as a way to convey meaning.
They can be verbal or nonverbal and can include words, gestures, facial expressions, or even clothing.
- Significant Others: Significant others are people who have an important influence on an individual’s life. They can be family members, friends, or romantic partners.
- The Generalized Other: The Generalized Other refers to the societal norms and expectations that influence an individual’s behavior.
How Social Interaction Theory Affects Communication
Social Interaction Theory suggests that our communication behavior is influenced by our interactions with others. This means that our communication style, tone, and content can vary depending on who we are communicating with and the social context in which the communication is taking place.
For example, the way we communicate with our boss at work may be different from the way we communicate with our friends. We may use more formal language and be more respectful when speaking to our boss, while using slang and being more casual when speaking to our friends.
In addition, Social Interaction Theory suggests that our communication behavior is influenced by societal norms and expectations. For example, we may be expected to use certain language or behave in a certain way based on our gender, race, or social class.
Social Interaction Theory helps us understand how interpersonal relationships and social context influence communication behavior. By understanding this theory, we can improve our communication skills by adapting to different social contexts and being mindful of societal norms and expectations.