Paper, Order, or Assignment Requirements
The video required is the movie “Inside Out” or TBBT season3 episode3.
COMM 200: Communication and Social Science Theory Comparison Paper
Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is: (1) to increase your understanding of how theory helps us understand communication phenomena, (2) to help you to critically assess the differences between theories, (3) to aid you in learning how theory is tested and shaped through empirical research, and (4) have you develop skills for doing library research in the social sciences and for reading and understanding articles in scholarly journals.
Overview: Your TA will present you with information about acceptable video clips. You will write a 5-6 page paper and identify the communication related issues that arise from the people or events in the video, identify two theories that can explain the same communication issues from two different perspectives, and describe how each theory has been used or tested in empirical studies.
Specific Assignment (STEP-BY-STEP)
Identify the relevant communication issues in the video that you would like to focus on in your paper (e.g., self-disclosure, relationships, leadership issues, language, media effects, persuasion, social identity, etc.).
You should look through empirical studies for research literature that focuses on these issues. In these studies/articles, you should be able to locate several different theories that can inform/explain/address the issues in some way.
Be sure to PHTOCOPY or SAVE any potentially good articles you find, as ultimately you will be required to turn in a copy of one entire article you used for your research paper!
Identify two different theories that you think have something valuable to say about the issues you’ve identified for events or people involved in the video clip. The theories may be ones discussed in lecture or your readings or they can be new ones you have discovered. The only requirement is that it has to deal with a communication issue.
IMPORTANT: Do NOT first pick theories and then force it onto your video clip! The best way to find good theories to use is to search first for research articles that address the topic and/or issues in the video clip and then see what theories those studies rely upon.
Now that you have your two theories, sift through the research articles you collected in Step 2 and pick one article for each theory (i.e., two articles in total) that uses or tests the theories you will apply in your paper.
NOTE: These articles must be empirical studies published in scholarly journals. “Empirical research” refers to reports of actual research (e.g., surveys, experiments, content analyses) with data presented (Method Section) and has a discussion section. Remember that you will need to intelligently describe the use of your theories in each article, so choose your articles wisely.
You are also strongly encouraged to find additional sources that could help you provide depth and richness to the points you make in your paper. Such additional sources might be other articles, book chapters, or textbooks that give you helpful information about the theory.
Write a 5-6 page paper, in which you do the following:
Introduce your paper: Briefly indicate what you are going to discuss in your paper. Make sure that you have a thesis statement. In your introduction you should identify the communication issue(s) that arise from the people or events in the video clip, and the two theories that will be used to explain those same issues.
Compare and Contrast your Theories: Briefly describe each theory (drawing upon the textbook, lecture, and/or additional sources; please remember to appropriately cite according to APA style). You probably want to focus on the main assumptions and tenets of the theory, especially those aspects that relate to the communication issues you will discuss. Once you have described each theory, indicate how the theories are similar (e.g., What do they have in common? Do they discuss the same issues?) and different (e.g., How is their focus different? Do they explain the same thing in different ways, such as different context, causes and consequences?).
Apply your theories to the Video Clip: Discuss each communication issue described earlier in terms of how each theory would explain that phenomenon. For example, if we were to examine a typical episode of “The Bachelor” or “MTV’s Are You The One?” we might notice that during the course of the night the couples ask each other questions. This issue could be explained by applying Uncertainty Reduction Theory or Social Penetration Theory. You might explain the behavior with Uncertainty Reduction Theory by indicating that in initial interactions, individuals strive to reduce uncertainty about another. Moreover, people reduce uncertainty by information seeking (i.e., getting the other person to self-disclose). On the other hand, you could explain this issue through Social Penetration Theory which suggests that people bond relationally through self-disclosure and that the level of self-disclosure reflects stages in relational development.
Review how your communication issues have been researched: For each study, explain how the researchers test the theory and/or used the theory to inform their study on the communication issue(s) in some way (e.g., Did the researchers test a particular aspect of the theory? Was the study an application of some of the theory’s concepts?). Briefly summarize each study and indicate describe any major results that relate to each theory.
Conclusion: Tie together the different parts of your paper. Although both theories can be applied to the communication issue(s) you described, one theory might be better to explain the communication phenomenon. Discuss which theory does the better job of explaining the communication issue(s). Indicate why. Is this theory better because of the social context or the relationship between the people involved in the video clip? Explain.
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