Table of Contents

General Contexts

Intrapersonal Communication (Persuasion)

Interpersonal Communication

Small Group Communication

Organizational Communication

Intercultural Communication

Mass Communication

Applied Contexts

Health Communication

Instructional Communication

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Last updated February 24, 2000


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Group Polarization

Explanation of Theory:
Group Polarization - is the tendency to make a decision that is more extreme, either riskier or more caution, after discussion has occurred than the initial preferences of group members.

Stoner, J. F.
Primary Article:
Stoner, J. A. F. A comparison of individual and groupd decision involving risk.  Unpublished master's thesis, Massachusetts Institue of Technology, 1961. 

Individual Interpretations:
Groups will make decisions, whether more risky or more cautious, according to the individual members in the group, not because of the group.  This is very important because some think that groups make the decisions, but is all dependant upon the individual members.

Metatheoretical Assumptions:
Being a Scientific theory the following metatheoretical assumption should be advanced.

Ontological Assumptions:
Scientific research suggest that human nature is deterministic.  Humans do 
not have control what they do.

Epistemological Assumptions:
Scientific research suggests that there is one truth, or big T truth.

Axiological Assumptions:
Research should not be value laden.  Research offers objective results.

Being a Scientific theory it should be critiqued using Chaffee & Berger's criteria.

Explanatory Power - Group polarization offers a good explanation of what happens in groups when making decisions.

Predictive Power - Group polarization offers an explanation that it is the individual members within the group that will decide whether to be more cautious or risky.

Parsimony -Group polarization is simple in saying that when members are in a group they are more likely to go with the group rather than their initial preference.

Falsifiablity - Group polarization can be tested by putting members together and watching what they do. 
Internal Consistency - Group polarization goes along with the research that is already published.  We want to be a part of a group and we will listen to our group members.

Heuristic Provocativeness - It is hard to offer any further explanations on this theory because a group will either be cautious or risky.

Organizing Power - Group polarization is very good in the respect that it organizes research from a period of 40 years.  It lays out things on both sides of the spectrum.

Ideas and Implications:
This is important to understand because of the implications of groups.  Groups make decisions that differ from group member's initial preferences and it is important to understand why this is the case.

Risky Shift

Relevant Research:
     Levine, J., and Moreland, R.  Progress in small group research.  Annual Review of Psychology, 1990, 41, 585-634.
     McCauley, C., and Segal, M.  Social psychology of terrorist groups.  In C. Hendrick (Ed.), Review of personality and social psychology: Group process and intergroup relations. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1987, 9, 231-56.

Location in Eight (8) Primary Communication Theory Textbooks:

     Anderson, R., & Ross, V. (1998). Questions of communication: A practical introduction to theory (2nd ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press.  N/A

     Cragan, J. F., & Shields, D.C. (1998). Understanding communication theory: The communicative forces for human action. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. N/A

     Griffin, E. (2000). A first look at communication theory (4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. N/A

     Griffin, E. (1997). A first look at communication theory (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. N/A

      Infante, D. A., Rancer, A. S., & Womack, D. F. (1997). Building communication theory (3rd ed.). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. N/A

      Littlejohn, S. W. (1999). Theories of human communication (6th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. N/A

      West, R., & Turner, L. H. (2000). Introducing communication theory: Analysis and application. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield. N/A

       Wood, J. T. (1997). Communication theories in action: An introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. N/A