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Applied Media Ethics

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Increasing our self disclosure to another person reflects the interplay of many factors.

Choose one relationship which has changed significantly as a result of increased openness. With reference to relevant theory and specific examples identify and analyse the interplay of factors impacting on this increase of self disclosure.

Self disclosure is an unavoidable and necessary component in any successful relationship. According to DeVito (2007) by disclosing intimate information, you achieve a closer relationship with the person to whom you self-disclose, thus increasing relationship satisfaction. In this essay I will focus on factors that have been fundamental in developing my relationship with my mother. With reference to relevant theories and examples I will explain how the interplay of circumstance, computer-mediated communication, trust and self understanding has impacted on the openness in our relationship.

According to Stewart & Logan (1997) without trust there is no basis for any type of intimate self disclosure. For instance, when my parents marriage separated I lost a significant amount of trust in my mother. Three primary perceptions of trust (Knapp & Vangelish, 2005): predictability, dependability and faith were no longer present in our relationship. Because of my mothers decision to leave my father, I felt I could no longer depend on her or her actions. The blanket of security that predictability had once provided me was now removed from my once sheltered life, causing the decrease of faith in my mother to occur. During this period, the quality and quantity of communication between us had changed dramatically. What I previously would have disclosed to my mother such as, my thoughts and feelings, I withheld from her. I was hurt by the separation of my parents and punished her by denying her knowledge and involvement in my life. This proves how quickly trust can be lost in a relationship and how significantly the interplay of such factors can change the amount of openness in a relationship.

It was as a result of this lack of trust that the level of intimacy in our conversations suffered. I am able to demonstrate the amount of information we disclosed and its contents at this stage of our relationship with the Altman and Taylor's Social Penetration Theory. Bebee, Beebe, & Redmond (2005) illustrate this theory in relation to a pie. The analogy of the pie represents the breadth of topics discussed. The concentric circles on the pie represent how intimate the content of the information is. For example, an inner circle disclosure could be an individuals deeply held thought or feeling. For example, after the separation, there was minimal depth. This meant I did not discuss with my mother my thoughts or feelings about their marriage separation.

Circumstance has a major impact on how much we disclose to another about ourselves (DeVito, 2007). A significant factor that changed the dynamics of our relationship and contributed to the increase of self disclosure was the dyadic living situation shared between my mother and I. A dyad or group of two, provides the optimum situation for self disclosure (DeVito , 2007). According to Tubbs & Moss (2006) self disclosure is an ongoing exchange process. The authors contend that when one discloses the other is subconsciously obliged to reciprocate with a similar level of disclosure. Our previous living situation limited the amount of one-on-one contact. Under these circumstances it seemed I was self disclosing information with a wide breadth but with minimal depth. However, once mum began to disclose more intimate information about herself, I felt more inclined to disclose details of my life which subsequently improved the openness of our relationship.

The openness of our relationship was strengthened and in turn increased through the means of email while I was on my gap year overseas. Self disclosure is not only limited to interpersonal communication, it also occurs in other forms of communication such as, the medium of the internet (DeVito, 2007). Research has shown that computer-mediated communication (CMC) of self disclosure takes place at a higher level than face to face interactions. There is also evidence that proves people disclose more intimate and personal information about themselves through this means of communication (Beebe et al. 2002). Henderson and Gilding (2004) found that because the actual presence of the person is not there, it is easier to talk and subsequently easier to talk about things that might not be brought up in real life. Through the means of email, mum and I began sharing information with the similar breadth and depth we had once had discussed before the separation. The interplay between CMC and our re-established trust significantly



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