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Social Penetration Theory - Essay Example

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Social penetration theory (Altman and Taylor) Name: University: Date: Lecturer: World Count: 826 Applying social penetration theory to personal experiences Introduction Social penetration (Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor) is the process of developing deeper intimacy with other people through self-disclosure and other forms of vulnerability…
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Download file to see previous pages The personality structure of individuals resemble a multilayered onion since if one peels the outer layers of the onion he or she will be capable of reaching the inner layers that are more vulnerable and important to self-image. I had a personal experience that can be best explained by the social penetration theory. I was capable of making close friends with an American girl through use of the social penetration theory. During the first days at the University, I was socially disliked by certain friends, but my lecturers persuaded me to look for other friends who we shared same values and beliefs. On the other hand, my parents persuaded me to stay only with friends who offered ‘good’ social influence. Most of the friends were heavy drinkers, cheerful and would constantly engage in games. Ironically, I do not take alcoholic beverages and it started becoming apparent that this was the reason why many friends ignored my company. However, I was capable of making close friends with an American girl who is a alcoholic drinker. The critical concepts of social penetration theory helped me understand how to form intimate relationships and share personal beliefs with fellow students. The concept of self-disclosure involves voluntary sharing of personal history, feelings, attitudes and secrets that define a person. In this case, I was able to relax these tight boundaries and approached a certain American girl so that we could become friends. I started by telling her demographic information, my country of origin, my attitudes towards studies and social lifestyle preferences. Accordingly, I went further to talk about preferences in terms of clothing, music and drinks. In this case, I mentioned to her that I do not take alcohol due to my religious convictions. Accordingly, I went further to mention that my deeply held fear was failure in my studies. The American girl was willing to listen after I taught her my preferences in terms of music and she too provided me with her biographic information, her preferences and deeply held fears. The depth of penetration explains how I managed to form close friends with the American girl despite our differences in lifestyles and religion. The depth of penetration is the degree of disclosure in a specific aspect of individual’s life and is determined by the frequency of sharing the private information. In this case, I shared my private information with her during every lesson. Accordingly, the law of reciprocity is essential in the early stages of the relationship. The law predicts that two people will attain the same level of closeness since the penetration will be rapid at the start of the relationship, but slows down as we progress to the inner layers. As I taught the American girl about my family history, she reciprocated by telling that her family lives in an expensive New York estate. She again taught me that alcohol consumption is acceptable in her family and had no fears of academic failure since she was used to the lifestyle. Accordingly, she stressed that her societal norms encourage cheerfulness, physical exercises and sometimes having fun by taking expensive alcohol. At this point, I felt that the relationship would fade due to our differences in societal norms, but I managed to remain comfortable while sharing both positive and negative private information, beliefs and attitudes. Another concept that is central to social penetration theory ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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