A New Horizon for a Classic Perspective: Facebook and Expectancy Violations Theory


Using the Expectancy Violations Theory in respect to online relationships, the purpose of this study was to test Facebook as a means of communication and whether its users establish a sequence of social norms in their expectations when they go online.

There are three main premises of EVT: expectancy, violation valence, and communicator reward valence. Applying this premise to relationships and communication made via. Facebook, the author states that, “EVT should be applicable to Facebook if aspects of that SNS and the relationships existing within that medium can be described through EVT terminology. The norms used to develop expectations are largely dependent on established and generally understood societal assumptions about a class of behaviors…” (Fife, Nelson, & Zhang, 2012, p. 16).

From the two research studies that were completed and discussed, both asked people ranging from 18-40 years old the following questions:

  • What are some “surprises” and negative behaviors on Facebook that exist as a way of people trying to identify previous expectations?
  • Do you generally accept friend requests from known requesters, as well as carefully consider privacy needs of friends?
  • To what extent are the tenets and predictions of Expectancy Violation Theory relevant to communication on Facebook?

After coming up with three hypotheses which correspond to the research questions, the author makes the claim that, “One of the key tenets of expectancy violation theory is that violations by more ‘rewarding’ interactants will be perceived more positively than the same violations committed by less ‘rewarding’ interactants” (Fife et al., 2012, p. 17).

The methodology that was used throughout these studies was by surveying 236 students from a liberal arts college with four provided scenarios. For each scenario, participants reacted to the same things which where developed to assess their responses, with answers in a range of Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree. Students were recruited by their professors, either for class participation or for extra credit.

The study’s overall findings were that EVT does seem to enable predictions for Facebook-based communication in relationships, which are in harmony with its basic tenets.

As scholars begin to understand more of the norms of communication through Facebook, they will be able to explain and predict reactions to violations of those norms more easily.


Fife, E., Nelson, C. L., & Zhang, K. (2012). A New Horizon for a Classic Perspective: Facebook and Expectancy Violation Theory. Journal Of The Communication, Speech & Theatre Association Of North Dakota2513-23.

A Critical Analysis of Cultivation Theory


Using George Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory, the purpose of this study was to test whether or not the content of things shown on television affect the viewer’s social reality and fears.

There are three premises within Cultivation theory: Institutional Process Analysis, Message System Analysis, and Cultivation Analysis. By applying these premises between television exposure and cultivation indicators, the author states that, “commercial television, unlike other media, presents an organically composed total world of interrelated stories (both drama and news) produced to the same set of market specifications” (Potter, 2014, p. 1018).

The research study that’s conducted each year in the U.S. asked citizens several questions about their media consumption:

  • How many hours of television do you watch a week on average?
  • During any given week, what are your chances of being involved in some kind of violence? (One in ten? One in one hundred?)

The methodology that was used throughout this study was by using the results from a randomly sampled annual national telephone survey of households to represent the U.S. adult population. Respondents were only used once, rather than continually asking the same people to see if there were any changes in the individual’s beliefs or TV exposure.

The test used two procedures when evaluating the answers, “One procedure was to compute the degree of relationship between viewing level and the selection of an answer on the cultivation indicator…the other procedure was to calculate…a cultivation differential, which was the difference between the percentage of respondents in the heavy viewing group who selected the TV world answer compared to the percentage of respondents in the light viewing group who selected the TV world answer.” (Potter, 2014, p. 1019).

The study’s overall findings were that if a person is a moderate or heavy viewer, they tend to develop phobias and views of the world as a result of a program on TV. The author does challenge Gerbner’s studies by saying that the research is rather weak and has not been documented very well, making it difficult to be evaluated over a period of time.

In the future, the author believes that if researchers can deliver a more precise way to articulate its ideas, it will have a stronger argument in how the media can affect a person’s beliefs about the world.


Potter, W. J. (2014). A Critical Analysis of Cultivation Theory. Journal Of Communication64(6), 1015-1036. doi:10.1111/jcom.12128

Using Symbolic Convergence Theory to Discern and Segment Motives for Enrolling in Professional Master’s Degree Programs


Using Ernest Bormann’s Symbolic Convergence Theory, the purpose of this study was to identify the fantasy types involved in student decisions to enroll in a professional master’s degree program in the investigating university.

The main premise of this theory is determining how groups bond through the key terms: rhetorical vision, fantasy theme, and fantasy chain. By applying this premise to the process of graduate students choosing to enroll in a particular master’s degree program, the author states that, “SCT’s capacity for explaining how people participate in the creation and sharing of common symbolic realities, a process that, typically, provides groups of people with meaning, emotion, and motives for action,” (Citation).

The research project focused on the following prompts for the participants to use to share their experiences, and react to the experience of others:

  • Describe events surrounding your decision to select your graduate program.
  • Describe personal experiences encountered in applying and gaining admittance to your program.
  • Discuss any anecdotes or stories heard from fellow program applicants regarding your selection and admission to your graduate programs.

The methodology for this study was organizing four focus groups of five to seven members, with fifty students from each of the 14 master’s programs randomly selected as participants. “During the first month of classes, four, hour-long, focus group sessions were held with 23 students representing 11 of the master’s programs…Audio tapes of each session were analyzed searching for recurrent content themes within and across groups that depicted participants’ views about the process of applying to, and deciding to enroll in, a graduate program at the investigating university,” (Citation).

The studies overall findings was that, “enrolling in a program and curriculum that fit what I need professionally” became the most important fantasy type needed to fully comprehend most graduate student’s decision making. A majority of the students in the study had fantasy types that correlated with the “Better Program, Quality University” rhetorical vision. If a business graduate sees that a university has a great business program or is highly known for it, then they believe that their ultimate experience at that university will be better academically and socially, than if they chose a university with a not-so-good business program.


Stone, J. F. (2002). Using Symbolic Convergence Theory to Discern and Segment Motives for Enrolling in Professional Master’s Degree Programs. Communication Quarterly, 50(2), 227-243.

Physician Communication in the Operating Room: Expanding Application of Face Negotiation Theory to the Health Communication Context


Using the Face-Negotiation Theory in respect to operating rooms, the purpose of this study was to apply face concern, conflict-management, and self-construal to the communication between operating-room physicians.

The main premise of FNT is how intercultural frameworks determine the type of face maintenance, which determines the type of conflict management styles used. Applying this premise to how operating-room physicians communicate, the author states, “…given the context of the operating room and the need for collaboration and interdependent communication, surgical-team members are expected to communicate within a relational or group structure,” (295)

From the research study that was completed and discussed, a sample of anesthesiologists and surgeons were asked the following questions:

  • To what extent do survey items associated with face negotiation research measure how physicians communicate and manage conflict in the context of the operating room?
  • To what extent do the same correlations exist among variables for data collected from operating-room physicians as they do for data collected from other populations studied using face-negotiation theory?
  • To what extent do survey data demonstrate evidence of variance between anesthesiologists and surgeons for the three variables associated with face-negotiation theory?

The methodology that was used throughout this study was by surveying 28 anesthesiologists and surgeons at a teaching hospital in Southwestern United States. After getting permission to conduct the study by the corresponding departments, the surveys were administered during individual departmental meetings.

The study’s overall findings were that surgeons are more other-face oriented and that anesthesiologists are more independently oriented. “Interestingly, the means were highest for both groups of physicians on interdependent self-construal and integrating conflict style, suggesting that both anesthesiologists and surgeons recognize the importance of collaboration as surgical team members,” (299).

When teaching hospitals train their surgeons in the future, they might consider training both surgical teams together and could stress the importance of interdependent teamwork practices.


Kirschbaum, K. (2012). Physician Communication in the Operating Room: Expanding Application of Face-Negotiation Theory to the Health Communication Context. Health Communication27(3), 292-301. doi:10.1080/10410236.2011.585449

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