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A Survey of Scientific Communication Theory

Charles Pavitt

This detailed survey of present-day scientific communication theory rejects the outmoded «levels» organizational scheme in favor of a system based on the underlying model and fundamental explanatory principle each theory presupposes. In doing so it shows the fundamental similarities among all communication-relevant contexts. Most theories included in the book are causal in nature, derived from one of three underlying models: message production, message reception, or interactive. A few theories take on a functional form, sometimes in dialectic or systemic versions. An introductory chapter describes what is meant by scientific explanation, how that concept is instantiated in scientific communication theory, and delineates the three causal models prevalent in these theories. A useful resource for scholars, this book is suitable for graduate and advanced undergraduate courses in communication theory.
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Chapter 3 Hedonistic-Driven Interactional Theories


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Hedonistic-driven interactional theories share the following characteristics: Two or more people motivated by reward-cost considerations alternatively think about a message delivered by the other, design a message in response, and deliver that message. As a consequence of their interaction, the people’s pleasure or pain can increase or decrease. There are a large number of theories within this category. One set of relevant theories is founded on the notion of social exchange. A second set of relevant theories describes behavioral adaptations that interactants make toward one another, particularly in the case of nonverbal behaviors. Paralleling the theories covered in Chapter 2, the social exchange theories are based on reinforcement principles and the behavioral adaptation theories are founded on notions of arousal level and homeostasis. Other examples of hedonistic-driven interactional theories covered here cover a wide range of additional areas of study.

Social Exchange Theories

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