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Anxiety/Uncertainty Management (AUM) is a theory developed by Dr. William B. Gudykunst in an attempt to define what makes up effective communication. Gudykunst’s research began in 1985 using existing theories as a starting point. Specifically, the existing research of Uncertainty reduction theory (URT) done by Berger and Calabrese (1974) provided the framework for Gudykunst to take the next steps. Like most theories on communication, AUM has undergone several modifications over the years as new research comes to light.

Development of Anxiety/Uncertainty Management as a TheoryEdit

Gudykunst’s first model of Anxiety/Uncertainty management theory was a fusion of the aforementioned URT and Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory, (1978) with a focus on intergroup communication. In 1988 Gudykunst paralleled his research slightly to attempt to explain intercultural adaptation as a result of uncertainty reduction. This version contained 24 axioms and incorporated the works of Stephan and Stephan on anxiety. The key conceptual difference between these two concepts explored by Gudykunst and the existing theory of URT was the intended outcome of the research. The outcome of URT is simply to reduce anxiety and uncertainty. Gudykunst’s intended outcome was for effective communication and cultural adaptation and not solely the reduction of anxiety. The inherent difference is that managing anxiety is to maintain it between minimum and maximum thresholds along a spectrum while reducing anxiety is unidirectional. This realization, along with the introduction of mindfulness as a factor of effective communication, led Gudykunst to finally designate an appropriate name for his research: Anxiety Uncertainty Management Theory (AUM).

The purpose of the first iteration of AUM was to be a practical application with a high degree of utility. The format of AUM includes numerous axioms, which in turn converge on one another moving in the direction of effective communication. (See Figure X). The specific number of axioms has varied over the last fifteen years according to updated research in the field of cross-cultural communication.

Scope of AUMEdit

A communication theory is typically focused on one of four levels of communication: individual, interpersonal, intergroup, and cultural. AUM is a theory most appropriate for interpersonal and intergroup levels of communication. All axioms will fit into either the interpersonal category or the intergroup category.

One of the two ways Gudykunst discriminates between interpersonal communication and intergroup communication is examining predictions of behavior. If the behavior can be explained with cultural norms or with sociological norms, it can be classified as intergroup communication. When the behavior is best explained by psychological factors it is likely interpersonal communication. A second effective differentiator is to examine the identities that guide human behavior. When our behavior is guided by personal or human factors, interpersonal behaviors tend to occur. When it is guided by social factors the opposite is true.

Working AssumptionsEdit

Complex theories such as AUM need to accept certain assumptions as true before the real content can be explored. Some metatheoretical assumptions Gudykunst makes on AUM are on the nature of reality, the way we gain knowledge, and the basis of human behavior. Gudykunst assumes that the basic processes of communication are the same across cultures; only the methods of interpretation vary. Also, he assumes these interpretations are how we gain data to create theories. Finally, and vital to AUM, he assumes that when humans are mindful they have greater control over their communications behaviors. This aspect of human nature is sometimes referred to as determinism. Gudykunst also employs several theoretical assumptions. The first is that strangers will trigger both interpersonal and intergroup anxiety. The perspective he takes for the sake of developing axioms is that of the stranger immersed in an ingroup. Another assumption deals with the concept of uncertainty. Gudykunst assumes that when uncertainty falls between an individual’s minimum and maximum acceptable levels effective communication will then take place. The maximum threshold is defined as the amount of uncertainty that we can possess and still comfortably predict the behavior of a stranger. Uncertainty above the minimum threshold keeps us from getting bored with the stranger and hence constraining communication.

Anxiety for the purposes of AUM can be described as an apprehension based on the fear of negative consequences. It is more prevalent in intergroup relations because there is an added fear of appearing prejudiced when dealing with an outgroup. Similar to uncertainty, Gudykunst postulates that effective communication relies on managing anxiety between minimum and maximum thresholds. Once we reach our upper limit for anxiety, virtually all of our attention focuses on its source and not on effective communication. The concept of managing levels anxiety can be compared to managing eustress and distress to achieve optimum performance. The positive benefit of the optimum amount of anxiety is trust, or “confidence that one will find what is desired from another rather than what is feared” (Deutsch, 1973, p. 149). The negative consequence is obviously avoidance. If we are overcome by anxiety we will simply choose not to communicate.

Another term needing a working definition for the purpose of AUM is effective communication. Simply put, effective communication is the extent to which a message is interpreted by its recipient with the intended meaning from the sender. Communication is more effective when both the sender and receiver use the same frames of reference. However in intercultural communication this is often untrue and interactions with strangers can in turn prove more difficult.


Finally, the mechanism around which AUM revolves is mindfulness. When people communicate mindlessly, they tend to utilize broad categories and stereotypes to predict behavior. As mindfulness increases the categories become more specific and typically more accurate predictors. Since being mindful makes us open to more information we are more likely to correctly identify the receiver’s frame of interpretation.

Theory ConstructionsEdit

Gudykunst uses 47 axioms as building blocks for the theorems of AUM. Axioms are “propositions that involve variables that are taken to be directly linked causally; axioms should therefore be statements that imply direct causal links among variables” (Blalock 1969). Axioms can be thought of as the lowest common denominators from which all causal theorems are derived. See Figure A below:

Figure A: Schematic of Anxiety/Uncertainty Management Theory

Self-ConceptsEdit

Axioms one through five all relate to our views of ourselves, or self-concepts. Gudykunst includes personal identities, social identities, and collective self-esteem in this category. Social identities are employed when we try to predict intergroup behavior and personal identities are naturally employed for interpersonal behavior. They both act in such a way as to help us manage uncertainty and anxiety by sufficiently predicting behavior. If either of these identities feels threatened, Gudykunst believes that we will attempt to raise collective self-esteem and hence fostering a more positive outcome. The greater our self esteem, the better we are able to manage our anxiety (Becker 1971).

Axiom 1: An increase in the degree to which our social identities guide our interactions with strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our confidence in predicting their behavior. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when we are secure in our social identities, we are not mindful, if strangers are perceived to by typical outgroup members, and when our anxiety and uncertainty are between minimum and maximum thresholds. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 294)

Axiom 2: An increase in the degree to which our personal identities guide our interactions with strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only in individualistic cultures, when we are not mindful we are secure in our personal identities, and our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 294)
Axiom 3: An increase in our self-esteem when interacting with strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 294)
Axiom 4: An increase in our ingroup-specific collective self-esteem when interacting with strangers from outgroups based on the specific ingroup will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only for the ingroups on wheich the collective self-esteem is based, when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and when we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 294)
Axiom 5: An increase in perceived threats to our social identities when interacting with strangers will produce an increase in our anxiety and a decrease in our confidence in predicting their behavior. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 294)

MotivationEdit

Gudykunst’s next set of axioms suggest that our motivation to interact with strangers is directly related to the fulfillment of needs. First, we have a need to trust others to behave favorably or at least in an expected manner. Second, and only in the context of intergroup relations, we need to feel inclusion with the group or anxiety will surely develop. Paradoxically, the third need that Gudykunst points out is our need for self-concept confirmation. We want to be included in the group, but not to the extent that our identity is lost in the crowd.

Axiom 6: An increase in our need for group inclusion when interacting with strangers will produce an increase in our anxiety. Boundary Condition: This axiom holds only when we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 295)
Axiom 7: An increase in our need to sustain our self-conceptions when interacting with strangers will produce an increase in our anxiety: Boundary Condition: This axiom holds only when we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 295)
Axiom 8: An increase in the degree to which strangers confirm our self-conceptions will produce a decrease in our anxiety. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and when we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 296)
Axiom 9: An increase in our confidence in our ability to predict strangers’ behavior will produce a decrease in our anxiety; a decrease in our anxiety will produce an increase in our confidence in predicting strangers’ behavior. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and when we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 296)

Reactions to StrangersEdit

We tend to act more favorably toward strangers whose mannerisms and beliefs converge with our own. In this case, we have a greater propensity to exhibit empathy, tolerate more ambiguity, and have a less rigid social posture when seeking closure. A rigid attitude, or close-minded thinking, leads us to seek closure to an interaction in the most direct way possible. If we were to exhibit empathy and attempt to think more objectively about the perspective of the stranger, we should in turn be postured to accept more ambiguity and seek the most appropriate solution instead of the most direct.

Axiom 10: An increase in our ability to process information complexly about strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 297)
Axiom 11: An increase in the rigidity of our attitudes toward strangers will produce an increase in our anxiety and a decrease in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 297)
Axiom 12: An increase in our uncertainty orientation will produce an increase in our ability to predict strangers’ behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our uncertainty is between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 298)
Axiom 13: An increase in our tolerance for ambiguity will produce a decrease in our anxiety. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 298)
Axiom 14: An increase in our ability to empathize with strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when we respect strangers and when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 298)
Axiom 15: An increase in the degree to which strangers converge toward us will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our confidence in predicting their behavior. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only in individualistic cultures when we are secure in our social identities and we do not perceive threats from strangers, when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 298)

Social Categorizations Edit

The next seven axioms of this theory focus on how people order their social environments into categories. When people categorize themselves, they become aware of being members of ingroups and outgroups, which generates anxiety and uncertainty. People tend to have more categories for their ingroup than they do for an outgroup, but the more familiar they are with an outgroup, the more categories they see. The categories that people create for outgroups will lead to expectations about the behavior of a member of that group, which can be either positive or negative. Expectations then help people predict, accurately or inaccurately, a stranger’s behavior.

Axiom 16: An increase in our understanding of similarities and differences between our groups and strangers' groups will produce a decrease in our anxiety and in increase in our ability to accurately predict their behavior. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, we are not mindful, and only for strangers who strongly identify with their groups. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 299)
Axiom 17: An increase in the personal similarities we perceive between ourselves and strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 299)
Axiom 18: An increase in our ability to categorize strangers in the same categories they categorize themselves will produce an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 300)
Axiom 19: An increase in the variability we perceive in strangers' groups will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 300)
Axiom 20: An increase in perceiving that we share superordinate ingroup identities with strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are beween our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 300)
Axiom 21: An increase in our positive expectations for strangers' behavior will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our confidence in predicting their behavior. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and a maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 300)
Axiom 22: An increase in our ability to suspend our negative expectations for strangers' behavior when they are activated will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when we are mindful of the process of communication, and our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 300)

Situational Processes Edit

The next four axioms are based on the situations in which communication occurs. People have different scripts they expect to follow for a given situation, much like actors may follow a movie script. Miscommunication occurs when people follow a script they assume the stranger with whom they are communicating to be familiar. People also react to strangers differently based on the conditions in which they interact. For example, cooperation was found to lead to positive feelings towards those one is working with (Argyle, 1991). People also tend to have less anxiety when there are other members of their ingroups present. Power also affects communication, and a person who feels they have less power than the stranger in an interaction will feel more anxiety towards that interaction.

Axiom 23: An increase in the cooperative structure of the tasks on which we work with strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our confidence in predicting their behavior. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 301)
Axiom 24: An increase in the normative and institutional support for communicating with strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and in increase in our confidence in predicting their behavior. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 301)
Axiom 25: An increase in the percentage of our ingroup members present in a situation will produce a decrease in our anxiety. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 301)
Axiom 26: An increase in the power we perceive that we have over strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and in decrease in the accuracy of our predictions of their behavior. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 301)

Connections to Strangers Edit

The next five axioms are based on connections between people. What the axioms come to is the more connected people feel to strangers, the less anxiety and uncertainty they feel in communicating with them. These connections come from attraction, interdependence, levels of intimacy, and number of the same people both communicators know.

Axiom 27: An increase in our attraction to strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and in increase in our confidence in predicting their behavior. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 302)
Axiom 28: An increase in the quantity and quality of our contact with strangers and members of their groups will produce a decrease in our anxiety and in increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 302)
Axiom 29: An increase in our interdependence with strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and in increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 302)
Axiom 30: An increase in the intimacy of our relationships will produce a decrease in our anxiety and in increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom applies only to broad trends across stages of relationship development. Within any stage of relationship development or within specific conversations, anxiety and uncertainty fluctuate (i.e. act as dialectics). The axiom holds only when we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 302-303)
Axiom 31: An increase in the networks we share with strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and in increase in our ability to accurately predict their behavior. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 303)

Ethical Interactions With Strangers Edit

The next three axioms are based on dignity and respect. Both dignity and respect are assumed to be returned when given to a stranger. This leads to moral inclusiveness, which is good for interactions with strangers because both sides expect the rules of fair play to apply to them. When strangers are considered morally excluded, they are treated almost as nonexistent, or as not deserving of respect or dignity (Optow, 1990). Moral inclusiveness applies not only to communication, but also to bystanders not actively involved in communication with strangers. For example, if a person makes an anti-prejudice statement, the people he or she is with are less likely to make a prejudiced statement towards a stranger.

Axiom 32: An increase in our ability to maintain our own and strangers' dignity in our interactions with them will produce a decrease in our anxiety. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety is between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 304)
Axiom 33: An increase in our respect for strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety is between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 304)
Axiom 34: An increase in our moral inclusiveness toward strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety is between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 304)

Gudykunst (2005) notes that maintaining dignity, respect, and moral inclusiveness requires being mindful, especially when anxiety is above a person’s maximum level.

Anxiety, uncertainty, mindfulness, and effective communication Edit

Langer (1989) states that mindfulness involves creating new categories, an openness to new information, and being aware of strangers’ perspectives. Mindfulness is essential for effective communication and one needs to develop mindful ways of learning about strangers. Langer (1997) concludes that this should involve: openness to novelty, awareness of distinctions, being sensitive to different contexts, an awareness of multiple perspectives, and an orientation to the present. For example, strangers are usually more mindful and able to “negotiate potentially problematic social interactions more effectively” than ingroup members. (Devine et al. 1996) Therefore, ingroup members should be mindful of the process of communicating as opposed to being mindful of the outcome of the interaction. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 305)

The following five axioms are essential for effective communication because they focus on the basic causes and processes of effective communication whereas the previous 34 axioms focused on managing our anxiety and uncertainty when communicating with strangers

Axiom 35: An increase in our ability to describe strangers’ behavior will produce an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when we are mindful of the process of communication, we are not overly vigilant, and our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 306)
Axiom 36: An increase in our knowledge of strangers’ languages and/or dialects will produce and decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and when we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005 p 306)
Axiom 37: An increase in our mindfulness of the process of our communication with the strangers will produce an increase in our ability to manage our anxiety and an increase in our ability to manage our uncertainty. Boundary Condition: This axiom holds only when we are not overly vigilant. (Gudykunst, 2005 p 306)
Axiom 38: An increase in mindfully recognizing and correcting pragmatic errors that occur in our conversations with strangers facilitates negotiating meaning with strangers (which will produce and increase in the effectiveness of our communication). Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when we are mindful of the process of communication and we are not overly vigilant, and our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 306)
Axiom 39: An increase in our ability to manage our anxiety about interacting with strangers and an increase in the accuracy of our predictions and explanations regarding their behavior will produce an increase in the effectiveness of our communication. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when we are mindful of the process of communication and we are not overly vigilant, and our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 307)

Cross-Cultural Variability in AUM Processes Edit

Gudykunst believes that for the theory to be complete there must be a cultural level of analysis included and that the axioms regarding cultural variability should only be tested on the cultural level. It is necessary to address cross-cultural variability in the major components of the theory because different types of anxiety are emphasized more in some cultures than in others. This is because there are differences in the dynamics of stranger-ingroup relationships across cultures. For example, Triandis (1995) offers that collectivist cultures tend to make a stronger distinction between ingroup and outgroup members whereas members of individualistic cultures usually only draw as sharp of distinctions among differing ethnic groups. (Gudykunst, 2005 p 307)
Axiom 40: An increase in cultural collectivism will produce an increase in the sharpness with which the stranger-ingroup distinction is drawn. Boundary Conditions: This axiom does not apply to stranger-ingroup relationships based on ethnicity, and when we are mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 308)

There is another factor of cultural variability that affects our anxiety and uncertainty when communicating with strangers. Hofstede (2001) proposes that xenophobia in cultures with high uncertainty avoidance is stronger than in low uncertainty avoidance cultures. For instance, when there is an increase in cultural uncertainty avoidance there will be an increase in anxiety and uncertainty when interacting with strangers from other cultures, races, or ethnic groups. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 308)

Axiom 41: An increase in cultural uncertainty avoidance will produce an increase in ingroup members’ xenophobia about interacting with strangers. Boundary Condition: This axiom does not hold when we are mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 308)

Hofstede (2001) suggests that gender composition between ingroup and outgroup members will also affect anxiety and uncertainty depending on whether it is a masculine or feminine culture. He notes that the effect of status/power on ingroup members and strangers in regard to anxiety and uncertainty will be affected by cultural variability in power distance as well as generational attitudes to cultural uncertainty avoidance.

Axiom 42: An increase in cultural masculinity will produce an increase in the sharpness of the stranger-ingroup distinction drawn for opposite-sex relationships. Boundary condition: This axiom does not hold when we are mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 309)
Axiom 43: An increase in cultural power distance will produce an increase in the sharpness of the stranger-ingroup distinction drawn for relationships involving unequal statuses. Boundary condition: This axiom does not hold when we are mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 309)
Axiom 44: An increase in cultural uncertainty avoidance will produce an increase in the sharpness of the stranger-ingroup distinction drawn based on age. Boundary condition: This axiom does not hold for intergenerational communication within families or when we are mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 309)

Belonging to an individualist/collectivist is an important component of how a member of that culture will manage their uncertainty.

Axiom 45: An increase in cultural individualism will produce an increase in ingroup members’ use of person-based information to manage uncertainty with strangers; an increase in cultural collectivism will produce an increase in ingroup members’ use of group-based and situation-based information to manage uncertainty with strangers. Boundary Condition: This axiom does not hold when we are mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 309)

Hofstede (2001) proposes that members of high uncertainty avoidance cultures try to avoid uncertainty more because of higher levels of anxiety with uncertainty and therefore tend to have more established cultural rules and norms for intergroup dynamics than low uncertainty avoidance cultures to minimize uncertainty. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 310)

Axiom 46: When there are clear rules for stranger-ingroup interactions, an increase in cultural uncertainty avoidance will produce a decrease in the anxiety and uncertainty experienced communicating with strangers. When there are not clear rules for stranger-ingroup interactions, an increase in cultural uncertainty avoidance will produce an increase in the anxiety and uncertainty experienced interacting with strangers. Boundary Condition: This axiom does not hold when we are mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 310)

The perception of effective communication differs in individualistic cultures and collectivist cultures.

Axiom 47: An increase in cultural individualism will produce an increase in the focus on cognitive understanding to communicate effectively with strangers. An increase in cultural collectivism will produce an increase in the focus on maintaining good relations between communicators to communicate effectively. Boundary Condition: This axiom does not hold when we are mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p 311)

Conclusion and Critiques Edit

There are many ways AUM theory can be applied. It can be effective in studying the behavior of a stranger adjusting to a new culture, as well as in examining how individuals communicate with strangers and often accurately predict their behavior; this is done when we are mindful. Gudykunst explains that some axioms can be combined to form theorems. These theorems that are generated might be consistent with previous research, while others might be useful for future study. He notes that not all axioms can be combined to form a new theorem. Huber and Sorrentino (1996) differentiate between certainty –oriented individuals and uncertainty-oriented individuals and argue that theories of interpersonal and intergroup relations have an “uncertainty orientation” bias. Gudykunst gives three reasons why AUM theory is not limited to uncertainty-oriented individuals. First, uncertainty-orientation is incorporated into the theory. Second, the superficial causes or factors that influence our uncertainty in a situation influence the amount of uncertainty we feel. Lastly, our personality characteristics influence our behavior only when we are not mindful. Gudykunst also defends the number of axioms in the theory because when the goal of a theory is to improve communication one cannot afford to be vague. Gudykunst acknowledges that there are certain areas where additional research is needed. For instance, one cannot always be mindful when communicating. So then, how can we recognize those instances in which mindfulness is needed or how do we know when we are at our optimal levels of anxiety or uncertainty? AUM theory is in a constant state of revision and even the current version of the theory is not complete.

ReferencesEdit

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02 Becker E. (1971). The birth and death of meaning. New York: Harper & Row.
03 Berger, C.R. & Calabrese, R. (1975). Some explorations in initial interactions and beyond: Toward a developmental theory of interpersonal communication. Human Communication Research, 1, 99-112.
04 Blalock, H. (1969). Theory construction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
05 Deutsch, M. (1973). The resolution of conflict. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
06 Devine, P., Evett, S., & Vasquez-Suson, K. (1996). Exploring the interpersonal dynamics of intergroup contact. In R. Sorrentino & E.T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of motivation and cognition. (Vol 3, pp. 423-464). New York: Guilford.
07 Gudykunst, W.B. (2005). Theorizing about intercultural communication. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
08 Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture's consequences (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
09 Huber, G., & Sorrentino, R. (1996). Uncertainty in interpersonal and intergroup relations. In R. Sorrentino & E.T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of motivation and cognition (Vol. 3, pp. 591-619). New York: Guilford.
10 Langer, E. (1989). Mindfulness. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
11 Langer, E. (1997). The power of mindful learning. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
12 Optow, S. (1990). Moral exclusion and injustice: An introduction. Journal of Social Issues, 46(1), 1-20.
13 Tajfel, H. (1978). Social categorization, social identity, and social comparisons. In H. Tajfel (Ed.), Differentiation between groups (pp. 61-76). London: Academic Press.
14 Triandis, H.C. (1995). Individualism & collectivism. Boulder, CO: Westview.

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