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Intrapersonal Communication (Persuasion)

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Last updated February 24, 2000


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Explanation of Theory:While individuals are in relationships with other individuals, each person assumes roles within the given relationship. These roles stem from four categories; Individual, Task, Maintenance, and Disruptive roles.

Theorists:  Bennie & Sheats

Date: 1948

Primary Article:

Individual Interpretations: When groups form individuals take on certian roles within the group.  Leaders emerge and skeptics form.  Individuals take on roles and these roles can changeover time.

Metatheoretical Assumptions:

Ontological Assumptions: Individulas assume roles within the groups.  Sometimes the roles are assigned by leaders, managers, or teachers.  However, most of the time the roles are assumed by the individual themselves.  Because of this free will role emergence is humanistic.

Epistemological Assumptions: Group members will assume roles within the group.  This is one truth and the theory of role emergence is scientific.

Axiological Assumptions: The theory of role emergence is value conscience.

Critique:Explanatory Power: Role emergence helps explain human behaviors that are expressed in relationships.

Predictive Power: Role emergence does predict individuals will take on roles while in relationships but the theory does not state what roles and how many individuals will assume.

Parsimony: Role emergence if very simple, yet it still successfully explains a human behavior.

 Internal Consistency: Yes, Role emergence is internally consistent.

Heuristic Provocativness: Role emergence helps explain the human behavior is groups but it is unable to predict what roles individuals will assume.

 Organizing Power:

Ideas and Implications:

Example:While in a group you see other group members begin to assume roles. One person may become the leader, another might become the antagonist. No matter what roles people assume in a group all individuals assume roles from each of the three categories of individual, maintenance, and task roles.

Relevant Research:

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. 10, 11, 26, 233, 226-227, 313

     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