Anxiety and Uncertainty Management Theory

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Anxiety/ Uncertainty Management theory, was created by William B. Gudykunst to define how humans communicate successfully based on their anxiety and uncertainty in social situations. William B. Gudykunst believed that in order to have successful intercultural communication a reduction in anxiety/ uncertainty must occur. In order to have a reduction in anxiety/uncertainty one must minimize misunderstanding and try and relate to the other. He explains that there are high levels of anxiety and uncertainty in primary encounters with people from other cultures. As well as opposite sex and same sex. He explains, how it is natural to feel this uneasiness as we are unsure of how to act towards/ around people of different backgrounds because we do not know what will be appropriate and what will not be for the particular culture/cultures. ('Anxiety/uncertainty management' 2019)

William B. Gudykunst states that in the initial encounter we tend to overestimate the way in which cultural identity influences behavior and not recognizing each person's individuality. He explains that some levels of anxiety and uncertainty is good for communication. A little gets adrenaline flowing and drives us to communicate effectively, but too much causes us to freeze with fear or blubber nonsense. We always want to be mindful by reshaping our messages to ensure effective communication to minimize misunderstanding and conflict.

Anxiety/ Uncertainty theory is based on the Uncertainty Reduction Theory which was developed by Berger and Calabreses. Uncertainty Reduction Theory provides the initial framework for Anxiety/ Uncertainty Management. As well as tells us people need prior information before about others to reduce their uncertainty. Meaning someone doesn’t feel well/pleasant until they know the other person by getting to know them through interpersonal communication. Both theories are always developing, based on the observation of human behavior in social situations.

Anxiety/Uncertainty Management Theory is broken down into two different types of Theoretical Statements; Axioms and Theorems.

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Axioms are defined as ‘propositions that involve variables that are taken to be directly linked causally; axioms should therefore be statements that imply direct causal links among variables. ('Anxiety/uncertainty management' 2019) William B. Gudykunst states that axioms are generated to manage anxiety and uncertainty by influencing effective communication in basic causes. Those variables include the following; self-concept, motivation, social categorization, situation processes, connections with strangers, ethical interactions, anxiety, uncertainty, effective communication and mindfulness. Within these ten categories there are forty-seven axioms.

Anxiety/Uncertainty Management and Communication Accommodation in Women's Brief Dyadic Conversations With a Stranger: An Idiodynamic Approach examines the different ways women speak with men or other women. The study used an innovative approach, called the idiodynamic method, to gather detailed date on a per-second timescale. Twenty four participants were assigned at random to one of the two types of dyads: male-female or female to female.

During this time they engaged them in a videotaped conversation lasting around 2-5 minutes. Once the conversations ended they each were placed in separate rooms to watch videos of themselves engaging with the other person. The videos showed continuous, dynamic ratings of their anxiety level, and that of their partner, throughout the entire conversation. After they were shown the video they were interviewed about the changes and reason in their ratings of both themselves as well as their partners. With this following six themes seemed to emerge from the interviews: awareness of the camera and researchers, comparison of self and partners, self judgement, worry about others judgement, disinterest, and reaction to miscommunication.

Data shows that communication accommodation was differently in the female-female versus female-male dyads, which could reflect the process involving uncertainty, group identification and continuously negotiated meaning. The findings in this study show that men and women speak differently to one another. When males approach women they tend to reflect more strongly to desire and maintain their individuality and reinforce their group memberships through maintenance or divergent communication accommodations. This article explains Anxiety/Uncertainty Management theory with the way both dyads communicate with each other as well as when around one another.

Intercultural Communication Effectiveness, Cultural Intelligence and Knowledge Sharing: Extending Anxiety-Uncertainty Management Theory examines an intercultural capability in the form of cultural intelligence by linking intercultural communication effectiveness to knowledge sharing. They took two-hundred and eighty five employees working in Australia by formulating a moderated-mediation model and tested the model using survey data collected from employees working in intercultural contexts. The results showed that anxiety is significantly and negatively related to knowledge sharing. If they are able to manage one's level of anxiety and accurately predict the attitudes and behaviors of others, then they can communicate effectively. This study is related to Anxiety/ Uncertainty Management theory by examining a potential proximate outcome of intercultural communication effectiveness: knowledge sharing or relation act based on a sender-receiver relationship.

When thinking of the many ways Anxiety/Uncertainty Management Theory can be applied I believe it can be effective in studying the behavior of a stranger trying to adjust to a new culture. As well as how someone communicates with a stranger and predict their behavior. When thinking of this theory I feel one can not always be mindful in a situation when communicating with someone. Which could cause potential problems. Not everyone is mindful and respects someone's beliefs when coming to a different culture, especially in today's world. I feel like this theory would of been more accurate twenty years ago whereas today we have a lot of differences as well as not wanting to understand someone else’s beliefs and/or backgrounds. This can cause a lot of anxiety between two people because they do not know how to communicate with one another without feeling like they have overstepped, been to quite, or offend someone. Those are ways I believe this theory would be more on the weaker side than the stronger side. The axioms and theorems were good ways to explain things, but also if you look at it you many axioms can be combined with theorems, but these 47 axioms can create over a thousand theorems which could create more confusion for someone.

Overall, I believe both of my articles over Anxiety/ Uncertainty Management Theory gave me a better understanding over this Theory. When I picked this theory out I went with something that seemed to be interesting and once I started to do more research towards this theory I realized how interesting as well as how much I use this Theory on a day-to-day basis when communicating with people from different cultures. When applying this research in the future, what I can say is to give someone a chance before judging them because you might be able to communicate easier with them and lessen anxiety in both yourself and the other person. I personally thought the axioms were very interesting. Especially how they are categorized. If I had any suggestions for future research, I would suggest that this is a theory that was tested every year on multiple different people and cultures. Everyday people change as well as the world, especially in today's time and age we are changing on a daily basis from a lot of different things and our anxiety/ uncertainty around one another right now I would say is at an all time high.

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