Part one


Expectancy violation theory delves on the beliefs and schemas that people formulate regarding what they anticipate happening in the future. Many people express optimism towards that which, they are hopeful to occur in the new future. On the other hand, it is true that not all expectation that someone formulates is realized positively based on one’s aspirations. Expectancy violation theory, therefore, explains the communication aspect of non-realization of the expectations that one sets. This paper explains the expectancy violation theory and its applicability. The paper has two main parts, that is, explanation of the expectancy violation theory and applicability of the theory.

Expectancy Violation Theory

The founder of the expectancy violation theory is Judee Burgoon. The theory asserts that communications and behavior have a positive relationship amongst humans, especially, close friends. Though every individual has personal expectations and targets, the expectations of an individual influences the expectation of the close friend. The theory narrows down to explain the justification of one’s expectation being limited by the expectation of a peer, friend or another individual. The theory, therefore, is based on influences of one’s future projections and its antagonistic results in the projections of another individual. The expectancy theory further asserts that personal space is greatly affected by the violation of one’s expectancy. The theory, therefore, affirms that the deleterious effects of one’s expectation of another individual is experienced severely when the two parties have a positive relationship. Two friends with a close relationship and conflicting expectations are perfect examples to extrapolate the theory. In event that the two friends or parties cannot harmonize their goals, targets and, in general, their expectations, a conflict results. The conflict between the individuals is the main or critical basis to which, the theory stems.

According to Jones, Schwartz, & Gilbert, there are two types of expectancy violations. The violations influences the relationship amongst individuals. First, predictive expectancy results when there is a need to outline the relations and communication that have to take place in a predetermined environment. Second, prescriptive expectancy, according to the theory, opines that the behaviors that many people display suits the context to which they live. The environment is, therefore, the common factor in the two categories of expectancies. Expectancy, on one hand, influences the environment that one lives and, on the other hand, is influenced by the environment based on the context that is applicable. The expectancy violation theory establishes that the determining factors of expectancy theory are social characteristics, culture, age, gender, and relationships. Social characteristics are the behavioral expectations that a society has on a listener. The expectation of behavior includes mode of dressing, greetings, and general lifestyle. When the social characteristics of an individual do not tally with the expectation of the society, expectancy violation results. Cultural expectancy relates to the code of conduct that a society has on its general populace. The code of conduct includes marriage, ethics and norms that one needs to practice. Therefore, context, relational characteristics and communicator characteristics are the three main factors that mark expectancies.

According to Burgoon & Hale the theory further establishes a likely situation of violation of expectancies of an individual. Interpretation of the behavior, either positively or negatively, and level to which, the partner expects a reward are the result determiners of determining what result. When the partner has a negative expectation of the feedback that he or she receives, the expectation of the partner is punctured. The innate nature of humans is to conduct a soul searching for the possible solutions to the unexpected behavior and situation that result. The theory, therefore, has postulates that understanding one’s partner is the key strategy to avert a likely uncertainty. According to the theory, the nature of many humans requires them to have a positive expectation to the plans that they set, therefore, not being able to meet, and expectation leads to uncertainty.

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Part two: Applications of the expectancy violations theory

Story that happened to me

My friendship with Nassir dates back during our childhood days. Nassir and I were bosom friends and shared a lot. One thing that bound us together was the ability to keep the keep our secret. One day, when we were about to graduate from primary school, I made a funny sound that made the class laugh. The whole class burst into laughter from the funny sound that I made in class. The teach was, however, angry since the sound was an imitation of him. The teacher decided to ask who made the funny sound. No one made a response to the teacher save for the person I least expected to reveal the identity of one who made the funny sound. Nassir turn back and looked at me, therefore, giving the teacher a clue of the one who made the funny sound. Nassir exposing me to the teacher was against my expectation.

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Relation of the story to expectancy theory

As already outlined in the earlier discussions, the theory of the expectancy violations delves on the actions and behavior that the persons we entrust so much with our feelings, secrets and happiness act contrary to this. Most often, our emotions heighten due to this unfulfilled hopes and may have various negative sociological impacts. On the positive perspective, the theory works against gratifying anxiety hence, instilling a sense of patience, and lack of high expectations in the life endeavors.

In the case of a negative path in a frindship, as is the case of Adam and Nasir, friends may react by engaging in the different defensive mechanism. Negative accusations and pointing of fingers could be one of the ways to blame one of the parties perceived to cause the friendship to be on the negative path. Some friends limit or minimize the frequency of meeting in a bid to respond to their plight of their discomfort in friendship. Moreover, others display negative behavioral mechanisms as a way of sending unsatisfactory messages on the poor performance in their friendships. Such may include a gestural display to affirm discontent and lack of emotional regard.

When the friendship is trending on a positive path, friends or the parties concerned enjoy utmost fulfillment as a result of emotional satisfaction. Acts of compassion and the joy of involving the other party in every aspect of their daily life are the results. In addition, emotional fulfillment compels the parties to go beyond in pursuit of tight friendship bonds.

In friendships where there is inadequate and ineffective communication, a number of unresolved issues create a recipe for various unhealthy behavioral consequences. When one feels underrated, then he or she may practice vices like irresponsive alcohol drinking, drug abuse and low morale of affirming the friendship bonds. Such behaviors limit the level of trusts that friends have for each other, and this may terminate their union. Other unhealthy vices parties in friendships are also likely to practice are as follows, lack of trust amongst friends, aggression when communicating and passage of false information concerning their friends as a way to intimidate them. These practices create more social and emotional gaps that are not healthy for any close friendship. Some friends fear being looked down upon and getting rude responses from men. Therefore, their actions are most likely to bring the relationship to a halt. The type of response that parties in friendship demonstrate in an event of a misunderstanding determines the fate of their union. When they are rational in solving disputes and making decisions, then the union is more likely to progress compared to when they subjective. Emotional responses create more anxiety, sadness and uncertainty in the progress of the given friendship. Avoidable mechanisms in which the parties withdrew from being close to each other may result.

Jones, Schwartz, & Gilbert postulates that actions between partners that leads to anger and bitter feelings bridges the gap between the partners and this cast doubt on the progress of their union. Most often, quarrels, abuse and at some instances unhealthy social behavior are always the results. In addition, such instances lead to the termination of the friendship.

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