24 December 2008
Posted in Relationship Theories
This theory came into effect as a result of work by Howard Giles. Howard Giles was a professor at the University of California. He used to teach communication theories at the university and carried out extensive research in this field.
Pragmatism is a school of philosophy which was founded in the late nineteenth century with Charles Pierce. Communication accommodation theory is one such pragmatic theory. It deals with the phenomenon of people changing their conduct when communicating with people. The base of study for this theory is the way people affect each other in an interaction.
This body language shows that we agree with the other and even like the interaction. By aping it is meant to create a better rapport and we feel that they should accept us.
The theory also has a converse that sometimes individuals purposely speak and behave in a distinct way to establish their identity. This is to make themselves known and to create an impact on the other.
The communication accommodation theory is divided into two parts, Convergence and divergence. Convergence is when an individual imitates the same way as the other and tries to copy. Recently this convergence theory has been extended to include not only copying of speech but also behavior and mannerism copy.
Divergence is exactly the opposite. It when an individual tries to establish his identity by deliberately being different. The individual puts a strong emphasis on the difference between the two inter actors to make an impact.
There are various examples of communication accommodation theory that we observe everyday in our day to day life. For example when we are speaking to the elderly we tend to change our speech and mannerism. We tend to speak in a softer tone and show respect through our speech and actions. At the same time when speaking with children we tend to be assertive and in command. During our day, we tend to change and adapt in every situation like talking to the boss, talking to parents, talking to children we change in every situation.
Researchers used this phenomenon to formulate a theory on how we can get people to trust us. They stated that we can just subtly copy the mannerisms, speech, actions of the person with whom we are interacting with. On a subconscious level they other tends to like and approve of us. Thus communication accommodation can be used to develop a better relation with the other individual.