Uncertainty Reduction Theory (URT) is a communication theory developed by Charles Berger and Richard Calabrese in 1975. URT is used to explain the process by which two strangers reduce their uncertainty about one another by exchanging messages. URT has been used in a variety of contexts, including social media, interpersonal relationships, and even in organizational settings. This article will provide an overview of URT and its implications for communication.

URT is based on the notion that when individuals first encounter each other, they typically experience uncertainty about the other person’s intentions, beliefs, and attitudes. This uncertainty creates a barrier to communication, as the individuals may be reluctant to engage in meaningful conversation. URT proposes that by engaging in communication, the individuals can reduce their uncertainty and develop a better understanding of each other.

The primary mechanism for uncertainty reduction is information exchange. URT suggests that individuals tend to ask questions and provide information about themselves in order to reduce their uncertainty. Examples of information exchange include self-disclosure (e.g., revealing personal information), identity claims (e.g., expressing beliefs or values), and exploratory conversation (e.g., asking questions about the other person’s background). As individuals exchange information, they become better able to predict each other’s behavior, and their uncertainty decreases.

The implications of URT are far-reaching. The theory has been used to explain the development of interpersonal relationships, as well as the formation of impressions in a variety of contexts. URT has also been used to explain the communication behaviors displayed on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.

In addition, URT has been used to explain the effects of communication in organizational settings. Studies have found that employees who engage in information exchange with their colleagues are more likely to develop positive relationships with their coworkers, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and better job performance.

In conclusion, URT is a valuable communication theory that has been used to explain the development of interpersonal relationships, the formation of impressions, and the effects of communication in organizational settings. The theory suggests that individuals reduce their uncertainty by engaging in information exchange, and that this process can lead to enhanced understanding and better relationships.

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Tong, E. M., Van Der Heide, B., Langwell, L., & Walther, J. B. (2008). Too much of a good thing? The relationship between number of friends and interpersonal impressions on Facebook. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(4), 531-549.

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