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Expectancy Violations Theory Essay

1073 words - 5 pages

Expectancy Violations Theory
The Expectancy Violations Theory originated by Judee Burgoon explains a person’s response to unpredicted actions by their peers, and the numerous meanings that individuals attribute to the abuse or violation of their personal space. Burgoon defined personal space as the “invisible, variable volume of space surrounding an individual that defines that individual’s preferred distance from others” (Griffin, p. 85). Expectancy is what people predict (or expect) will occur, instead of what they wish.
What a person can conclude from these descriptions is that expectancy violation is a violation of one’s prediction. This theory understands communication as the ...view middle of the document...

The violations you expect will be transformed as a result. Likewise, expectations vary based on culture. For example, you may expect a person to welcome you by kissing your face three times on alternating cheeks if you are in other parts of the world, but not if you are in the United States.
The Communicator Reward Valence is an assumption you make about the individual who committed the violation. Em Griffin summarizes the idea behind Communicator Reward Valence as the “sum of positive and negative attributes brought to the encounter plus the potential to reward or punish in the future” (Griffin, p.91). By observing the setting, relationship, and communicator’s characteristics, one can attain an assured expectation for how a certain individual should and will probably act. Altering even one of these expectancy variables might lead to a changed expectation.
Violation Valence is the perceived positive or negative value assigned to expectations, regardless of who the violator is. Violation Valence is the positive or negative assessment you make about a behavior that you did not expect. Also, many expectations violations are vague and open to numerous explanations. But when the meaning of an action is unclear, Expectancy Violations Theory says that we interpret the violation in light of how the violator can impact our lives.
People need a certain amount of personal space and privacy. People also desire a certain amount of closeness with others. Expectancy Violations Theory seeks to explain the meanings that are formed when expectations of appropriate personal space are violated. Proxemics is the study of people’s use of personal space. The four zones of personal space include: intimate distance (0-18 inches), personal distance (18 inches-4 feet), social distance (4–10 feet), and public distance (10 feet to infinity).
Strengths of the Expectancy Violations Theory are increased nonverbal awareness, whereas a weakness is failure to predict reliably. After evaluating expectancy, violation valence, and communicator reward valence of a certain situation, it becomes possible to make exact estimates about whether the person who observed the violation will respond or reward the behavior being questioned. Specifically, if the violation valence is perceived as positive and the communicator reward valence is also perceived as positive, the theory expects you will respond with positive behavior. For example, your boss gives you a huge smile after you have given...

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