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Understanding the Social Penetration Theory (Coursework Sample)


This assignment is a course work on certain theories in psychology. The theory that was selected for this work was social penetration theory that appeared in the chapter 6 of the course material that was attached. The students were required to go through the chapter and condense what social penetration theory entails, provide communication situation where they plan to apply the theory, and how they applied it.


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Selected Theory – Social Penetration Theory
Social penetration theory (SPT) is an interesting theory covered in Chapter 6. It was developed by two innovative figures in the field of psychology, Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor. They described social penetration theory as overt interpersonal behaviours in social interaction and the internal subjective processes preceding such exchanges. These consist of verbal, para-verbal, nonverbal, and environmentally oriented behaviours. The definition, as provided thereof, can be construed to imply that relationships relate to communication in a rather directly proportional fashion. Hence, social relationship theory entails that as relationships develop, communication escalates from shallow to deeper levels. In other words, social interactions enhance communication from less personal or non-intimate levels to intimate and more personal levels. Examples of situations that the theory addresses are meeting a person at a party and finding it difficult to engage and passing by a prospective acquaintance and conveying greetings without expecting a response. However, through enhanced social skills, both parties become more comfortable and willing to open up and express themselves as the relationship develops through breadth and depth.
Communication Situation
The situation that I plan to apply the SPT is on elevation my relationship with a prospective friend, Kilian. Killian and I reside in the same neighbourhood but have, in the recent past, endured a less personal relationship whereby we do not enjoy sufficient latitude to share more on our lives and experiences. His communication behaviour exhibits withdrawal in the sense that he hardly disclosures about himself and also bears negative body language that entails a lack of eye contact, among others. Without self-disclosure, Killian cannot sustain a proper conversation and it is, thus, difficult to know his feelings, fears, dislikes, favourites, and even aspirations. Regardless of the difficulties in his communications, he seems very receptive and enjoys my company, which prompts me to apply SPT on our subsequent engagements to foster a healthy friendship.

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