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 19, 2001


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Explanation of Theory:"Male-female conversation is cross-cultural communication. Masculine and feminine styles of discourse are best viewed as two distinct cultural dialects rather than as inferior or superior ways of speaking. Men's report talk focuses on status and independence. Women's support talk seeks human connection. (Griffin, p. 497).

Theorists: Deborah Tannen


Primary Article:Linguistic microanalysis of conversation:  Deborah Tannen Conversational Style:  Analyzing talk among friends, Ablex, Norwood, N.J., 1984.

Individual Interpretations:Genderlect is a newer gender theory and it is useful as well as unique with its cross-cultural approach to gender communication.  It had become popularized by Tannen's popular press book; You Just Donít Understand. 

Metatheoretical Assumptions:

Ontological Assumptions:n/a

Epistemological Assumptions:n/a

Axiological Assumptions:n/a

1. Explanatory power:  Tannen does a good job of explaining where the theory is rooted
2. Predictive power:  Genderlect has decent predictive power about inter-gender communication
3. Parsimony:  Genderlect is a simple theory
4. Internal Consistency:  Genderlect is internally consistent 
5. Heuristic Provacativeness:  Genderlect has inspired many researchers to study gender communication
6. Organizing Power:  Genderlect has strong organizing power

Ideas and Implications:Genderlect is similar to Kramarae's "Muted Group" theory in that they both claim that communication between men and women is really communication between cultures.  Not only are men and women submerged in two different communication cultures, they even speak two different languages.


Example:The movie "When Harry Met Sally" is quoted in many communication textbooks as being an example of genderlect at its best.  Tannen is stating that communication between genders is really communication between cultures.  That men and women each have their own communication culture.

Relevant Research:Judith Trent & Teresa Sabourin, (1993).  "Sex still counts: Women's use of televised advertising during the decade of the '80's."  Journal of Applied Communication Research, vol. 21

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. 435-445

     Griffin, E. (1997). A first look at communication theory (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. 447-457

      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