Accommodation Theory - Essay Example

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Chief among these researchers was Howard Giles. The theory focuses on the role that conversations have in the lives of human beings (Giles…
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Accommodation Theory This a theory that was developed by researchers in 1970s, who undertook research based on the interactions between people in the society. Chief among these researchers was Howard Giles. The theory focuses on the role that conversations have in the lives of human beings (Giles and Nikolas, 1991). The study of accommodation theory is incorporated in a number of studies, which include mass media, interviews sessions, and the telephone messages. The accommodation theory is simple to understand because of the simplicity of its core processes (Bickmore and Daniel, 2012, 58). Accommodation theory suggests that every person in a given society has the ability to change or adjust their speech depending on the nature of the conversation, or the other person they are addressing and the purpose of the interaction.
The changing of the speech patterns is a summary of how the accommodation theory works. For example, when native people talk to foreigners, they tend to speak more slowly or when adults talk with children and babies, they use simple language (Griffin, 2008). When put into context, it means that people accommodate others by adjusting their communicational behavior to match the level of those they are with, in a conversation. The results of accommodation are ultimately either divergence or convergence. As their names suggest, a convergence result is where a person moves their speech to be closer to that the other person’s. On the other hand, a divergence result is when the speech move away from each other. Convergence result allows the reduction of the social distance between the two conversing parties. It allows a person who is of a higher class to tone down their speech so that they can communicate effectively with the lower class person. On the contrary, the divergence result increases the distance between people. The divergence result emphasizes the differences that exist between people.
The accommodation theory has many existing and available means by which it may be applied. Currently the accommodation theory is applied to many communication processes. Gasiorek and Howard (2013, 15) opines that in a company or an organization that has different levels of employees, the accommodation theory can be applied to aid the communication between the management and the employees. For instance, it is used for horizontal communication amongst the employees and in vertical communication between employees and senior management.
To test this theory, Giles came up with several theories that served to test why people change their speech patterns. The four theories he suggested are the similarity attraction, social exchange process, causal attribution process and the process of intergroup distinctiveness (Giles and Nikolas, 1991). For instance, similarity attraction theory means that when one speaks to a person who they have a similarity with, it is most likely that they attracted to them. It is observed that such attraction will cause the two people to change their speech patterns.
The accommodation theory suggested by Giles has its shortcomings. At any particular moment in time, the conversations that are held between two people are very complex in nature. The complexity of such conversations makes them hard to be broken down into the processes of convergence and divergence as described by the accommodation theory. Another shortcomings of the accommodation theory is the confusion that arises when during a conversation, the people involved utilize the two techniques. In addition, conflict between two people can arise from the use of this theory. This is because the accommodation theory is purely based on rational thinking but it is widely known that human beings conversation can be irrational at times (Giles and Nikolas, 1991).
Works Cited
Bickmore, Timothy and Daniel Schulman. "Empirical Validation of an Accommodation Theory." Journal of Language and Social Psychology (2012): 47-126. Print.
Gasiorek, Jessica and Howard Giles. " Accommodating the Interactional Dynamics of Conflict Management." Journal of Society, Culture and Language (2013): 10-36. Print.
Giles, Howard and Nikolas Coupland. Accommodating Language. Great Britain: Open University Press, 1991. Print.
Griffin, Ern. A First Look at Communication Theory (7th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2008. Print. Read More
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