Social Penetration Theory and communication

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The Primary Goal and Social Penetration Theory

The primary goal of this essay is to discuss social penetration theory as seen in the examples provided. However, this idea appears to connect relational engagement and self-disclosure. Intimacy in a relationship is always obvious. Social penetration theory involves various stages. These phases include orientation, exploratory-affective, affective, steady, and penetration (Littlejohn, 2009). Relationships typically "break-down" when costs outweigh benefits. A relationship that has gone through each of the fundamental phases is functional. For instance, the orientation stage marked the start of a steady partnership. Theoretical advancements in social penetration theory have occurred over time. These processes are characterized by increases in closeness. Marsha Mason who shares an apartment with Richard Dreyfuss is uncomfortable with her stay due to the practices of Richard. Marsha Mason confesses that she does not know Richard Dreyfuss well to dislike him, but she does not like what she is forced to experience. Richard wakes up early in the morning to perform 'rituals' which he terms them to be beneficial to his daily life. Marsha Mason regards these practices to be weird. She even decides to leave the house, but unfortunately, she does not have enough funds. According to this romantic comedy "The Goodbye Girl," the living arrangement cannot work. Marsha Mason is fed up with Richard due to his weird living style. Social Penetration Theory (SPH) is evident as both characters talk about their private and personal matters. Richard and Marsha also start to criticize each other.

Self-Disclosure in the Film "When Harry Met Sally"

According to the film "When Harry Met Sally," self-disclosure has been elaborated. Many scenes in the film involving Harry and Sally revolve around self-disclosure. In a relationship, self-awareness is vital as it leads to a stable relationship. Harry and Sally involve themselves in conversations that are based on affairs. However, the two do not end up being together as each person seems to be having a different perception of what relationship is all about. The level of self-awareness of Harry and Sally seems to promote the Social Penetration Theory (SPT). This way, both characters regard self-disclosure as an important tool of relationship. For people to grow closer in their relationship, self-awareness from both parties should be evident (Knapp, Vangelisti & Caughlin, 2014). This is because it is through self-awareness that one can understand his/her flaws. Harry and Sally in numerous encounters talked to each other about their personal social life with the aim of wanting to get along.

The Differences in Reactions between Men and Women in the Film "Friends"

Relationships ought to be 'open' so as to enable the involved parties to speak to each other freely on issues that affect them personally. According to the film "Friends," male and women's reactions differ. The girls are happy for the other girl who happened to have been kissed by her 'crush.' Their reaction leads to them taking some wine unlike the reaction expressed by the male friends. After the girls get to know of their friend being kissed, they scream with lots of joy. This depicts how girls react to small things, unlike boys. In this film, it is evident that the relationship of the girls is depicted in a manner that they are 'true' to each other. This is because one of the girls allows her friends to know of her relationship.

Openness and Self-Disclosure in Relationships

The male friends receive the news as just 'normal news.' This can be showcased by their response. After their friend informs them of the kiss he had with his friend, the friends reply to the news with no excitements. From this scenery, it is evident that women respond to good news with lots of excitements, unlike the male. Therefore, a lot can be learnt from the film 'friends.' However, the main teaching of the film is of creating good relationships. Male and women do not react in the same manner to thesame news. According to the film "Friends," the girls appear to be obsessed by good news. As evident in the film, the friends are always overwhelmed by news of their friends. Therefore, good news exposed can be asource of excitement to some.

Openness and Equality in Stable Relationships

Another assumption of the social penetration theory that has been regarded to be vital is self -disclosure. Through self-disclosure, individuals can understand each other well through the conversations held. Involved parties can decide to 'open up' on their issues. This way much can be achieved. Openness can serve as a core of a relationship develops. Therefore, openness can be used to get people closer just like self-disclosure does.

Both parties ought to treat relationships with the respect it deserves. This way, a stable relationship would be achieved. Equality and openness are some of the key concepts that a stable relationship would bear (Alberts, Nakayama & Martin, 2015). Therefore, involved parties can decide to be open to each other by sharing their different ideas and opinions. This way, people would get closer to each other. Friends can withstand each other'sfaults by incorporating them as their own.


Alberts, J. K., Nakayama, T. K., & Martin, J. N. (2015). Human communication in society. Pearson.

Knapp, M. L., Vangelisti, A. L., & Caughlin, J. P. (2014). Interpersonal Communication & Human Relationships. Pearson Higher Ed.

Littlejohn, S. W., & Foss, K. A. (2009). Encyclopedia of communication theory (Vol. 1). Sage.

March 10, 2023

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