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Theory wiki #3 – Jen Villard



Theory: Experiential learning theory



Main authors: John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, Jean Piaget, William James, Carl Jung, Paulo Freire, Carl Rogers (20th Century scholars), Alice Kolb, David Kolb (2005)



Description of theory: Experiential learning theory is transforming one’s experience in order to create knowledge (Kolb & Kolb, 2005).  It is about applying one’s skills to real life experiences.  “ELT as defined by Kolb posits that learning is the major determinant of human development, and how individuals learn shapes the course of their personal development” (Kolb & Kolb, 2005, p. 195).  This theory is built on six propositions: 1) Learning is best conceived as a process, not in terms of outcomes, 2) All learning is relearning, 3) Learning requires the resolution of conflicts between dialectically opposed modes of adaptation to the world, 4) Learning is a holistic process of adaptation to the world – not just the result of cognition, but involves the integrated functioning of the total person, 5) Learning results from synergetic transactions between the person and the environment, and 6) Learning is the process of creating knowledge.  “Experiential learning is a process of constructing knowledge that involves a creative tension among the four learning modes” (concrete experience, abstract conceptualization, reflective observation, active experimentation) “that is responsive to contextual demands” (Kolb & Kolb, 2005, p. 194).



Example study:

Lobley, J. & Peronto, M. (2007). Experiential learning in workforce preparation – An application

for success. University of Maine. Journal of Extension, 45(3), para. 4-6.




How relates to Ag. Communication:

I foresee this theory relating to Ag. Communication through hands-on learning activities at a county fair, for example.  At different points a young person or adult may see a farmer milking a cow, but has never been afforded the opportunity of trying for themselves.  Many times at county fairs or other agriculture events there are opportunities for people to see what milking a cow is all about.  These people have heard about this and seen it done, but never actually done it for themselves.  Through experience and experimentation a person that does not know much or anything about agriculture can learn about the everyday workings of life on the farm.



Another example was at COSI last summer where they had an exhibit known as Farm Safety Days.  Besides children being able to play on the tractors and other farm equipment, there was also a “game” they could play to help them understand what farmers have to do on a daily basis to keep their farm in working order and continuing the everyday tasks.  Each child learned about buying equipment, taking out loans from the bank, spinning a wheel to see what the market and economy would be like for them, which also the point when they discovered if their crops were infested with pesticides and insects, an activity where they learned about planting seeds and growing crops, learning about soil and water conservation, the Extension Service was present to discuss their role in the agriculture/farming industry, and so on.  This was an educational opportunity for kids to learn about life on the farm and learn about making decisions about how to maintain their farm, crops and animals.  They were able to put what they learn about to practice.  This real life application was also beneficial for the numerous parents with their children.  Farm Safety Days was an opportunity to reach out to the general public through hands-on learning.



Cultivation Theory  (Carla Jagger)



Main author: George Gerbner (mid- 1960’s)



Description: Cultivation theory suggests that television is responsible for shaping, or ‘cultivating’ viewers’ conceptions of social reality. The combined effect of watching a large amount of television over time subtly shapes the perception of social reality for individuals and, ultimately, for our culture as a whole. Cultivation theorists distinguish between ‘first order’ effects (general beliefs about the everyday world, such as about the prevalence of violence) and ‘second order’ effects (specific attitudes, such as to law and order or to personal safety). There is also a distinction between two groups of television viewers: the heavy viewers and the light viewers. The focus is on ‘heavy viewers’. People who watch a lot of television are likely to be more influenced by the ways in which, the world is framed by television programs than are individuals who watch less, especially regarding topics of which the viewer has little first-hand experience. Light viewers may have more sources of information than heavy viewers. ‘Resonance’ describes the intensified effect on the audience when what people see on television is what they have experienced in life. This double dose of the televised message tends to amplify the cultivation effect.



Example Study:

Quick, B. (2009, March). The Effects of Viewing Grey's Anatomy on Perceptions of

Doctors and Patient Satisfaction. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media,

53(1), 38-55.




Relation to Ag Communication issues:

I could see this theory having either a positive or negative effect on agriculture, and right now it seems like there are more negative messages/media of agriculture than positive ones. Since the majority of the population doesn’t have first hand experience with farming and the agriculture industry start to believe what they are seeing on the television to be true. As agriculturists I think we could be using this theory to benefit us, by showing the public how farms are really operated and that the negative images they see aren’t the rare minority of farming practices. This could help with the agriculture literacy of the general population, which could help us combat many of the other issues that face the agriculture industry.



Theory wiki #2 – Jen Villard



Theory: Implicit personality theory



Main authors: S. Asch (1940 – advanced the idea), H. H. Kelley (1950 – concept experiment)



Description of the theory:

Implicit personality theory means we each have “a mental catalogue of traits in our head.  As soon as we obtain information on one trait or a cluster of traits, we seem to assume automatically that other traits will also be characteristic of the person being observed” (Knapp & Vangelisti, 2005, p. 147).  The theory looks at how we perceive others to be like ourselves.  With that, we as human beings find a way in which to structure our surroundings so as to be able to organize and classify people as we perceive them, whether our perception is accurate or not.  This can lead to stereotyping, which gives us a way to simplify things to the point of being able to handle them.  Stereotyping can, however, cause problems because by making inferences about people we do not know, we potentially lose the opportunity of meeting and interacting with people we may have eventually cared about (Knapp & Vangelisti, 2005).



Example study: Components of Interpersonal Communication: Social perception – Ch. 7 (pp. 110-124)



How relates to Ag Communication:

It is easy, no matter what environment you are in, to stereotype someone different from you.  You classify a person based on how they look, act and/or present themselves.  However, this perception is not always accurate, especially when there has not been a chance to meet and interact with that person.  An example of differences of perception and falling into a certain stereotype is that we can all relate to the fact that the agriculture college seems to be very separate from those “across the river.”  That alone is a stereotype.  Students, faculty and staff perceive us on the agriculture side to be solely farmers – that is, born and raised on the farm.  I, myself, on the other hand, am obviously an agriculture major, but have no agriculture background other than my exposure to it through 4-H, and some of my family live on a farm.  I have never milked a cow, baled hay, or ridden/driven on a tractor.  But I am not completely ignorant about all the hard work and dedication that go into farming and advocating for it.



In being stereotypical and classifying another person into a certain trait category, we have already discussed a good example in class of this, which is that of the show “The Simple Life” starring Paris Hilton.  Known as a Hollywood icon with the glitz and glamour, she is put to work on the farm to understand the true value and importance of it.  From watching that show, the general public makes their own generalizations and bases their perceptions of agriculture on this show.  Based on class discussion it seems that the show made a mockery of agriculture and more specifically farming.  Is the show accurate?  I do not know because I have never seen it.  But I got the impression that the show demeans farming and agriculture industry.  This show is a good example of how the agriculture is perceived and what we can do as advocates of agriculture to alter any misperceptions the public may currently have.






Annie Specht – Wiki Entry #2: Media Richness Theory




Main Authors

R.L. Daft & R.H. Lengel (1986)





“Media richness” refers to a communication medium’s “ability to change understanding within a time interval” (Daft & Lengel, 1986, p. 560) and is determined by certain mechanical characteristics of the medium, including feedback speed, the number of cues, the degree of personalization, and the language variety (Yoo & Alavi, 2001). Media richness theory essentially means that the richer the medium, the more effective a means of communication it is. In traditional communication media, a rich representation “uses a wide variety of symbolic languages, such as graphics, voice inflections, and body gestures to convey information” (Lim & Benbasat, 2000, p. 451); media richness can be employed to create a sense of presence that facilitates group identification in online environments (Scott, 2007; Rock & Pratt, 2002). Digital media richness involves characteristics such as interactivity and multimodality.




Related Study


Lim, K.H., & Benbasat, I. (2000). The effect of multimedia on perceived equivocality and perceived usefulness of information systems. MIS Quarterly, 24(3), 449-471.




Relation to Agr. Communication Issues

Media richness theory has a strong impact on studies involving online communication. Agricultural communication has traditionally maintained a strong foothold in traditional mass media, like industry magazines and radio programming, but the emerging presence of agriculture in computer-mediated environments means that care must be taken to include various media to increase richness and thus communicative impact. Industry organizations have increasingly begun to utilize multimedia on their websites, such as YouTube videos, podcasts, and interactive feedback opportunities (like blog comments and message boards).




Annie Specht - Wiki Entry #1: Social Identity Model of Deindividuation Effects


Main Authors

M. Lea & R. Spears (1991)




The social identity model of deindividuation effects (SIDE) is an offshoot of social identity theory that posits that “lack of identity cues, when coupled with a shared group identity, amplifies the influence of the group by obscuring within-group interpersonal differences” (Lee, 2008, p. 647). The anonymity of the Internet allows for the “deindividuation” of the communicative dyad, in which users shift from the realm of the personal to the social, and it may also lead to over-reliance on the minimal sociocontextual cues afforded via CMC. This reliance may cause inflated impressions of communicative partners, diverts attention from within-group idiosyncrasies, and makes people more susceptible to group influence (Walther, 1996; Scott, 2007; Lee, 2006). It also promotes the salience of a social identity within an in-group. This increase in group influence and subsequent identification has strong persuasive ramifications: Establishing a strong collective identity, then, provides organization leaders with a heuristic capable of “overriding persuasiveness of arguments” (Lee, 2007, p. 140).



Related Study

Lee, E. (2007). Deindividuation effects on group polarization in computer-mediated communication: The role of group identification, public-self-awareness, and perceived argument quality. Journal of Communication, 57(2), 385-403.



Relation to Agr. Communication Issues

The SIDE model has strong persuasive implications related to social identity theory – it is a model of SIT in practice. Past studies of SIDE include analyses of interactive online games and the real-world response that users have to other game participants – agricultural communicators studying online communities, such as social-networking sites and message boards, can use SIDE to understand group cohesion and subsequent interactions among group members. For instance, a firmer grasp of SIDE may influence how a communicator chooses to set up an organizational message board to increase anonymity and promote group identity among members, which would theoretically contribute to the persuasive impact of the group’s messaging. It also provides a framework for studying how other organizations utilize interactive technologies for communication purposes and to what effect.



Theory wiki #1 – Jen Villard

Theory: Non-verbal Immediacy Construct



Main authors: Janis Andersen, Peter Andersen, Arthur Jensen (1979)



Description of the theory (in this case a construct):

A number of nonverbal behaviors make up the immediacy construct.  Some of the most common behaviors are touch, eye contact, facial expressions and meaningful movements, and whether they are viewed as positive or not.  Nonverbal immediacy is typically studied in parts and not as a gestalt.  Very little research has attempted to study the subfield in its whole, but rather has studied various parts, or effects, of some of the common behaviors that are typically more obvious.  According to Andersen et. al (1979), immediacy, though, “must also be studied as a gestalt for two reasons.  First, since many immediacy behaviors exist, it is unlikely that any study can systematically isolate all relevant immediacy behaviors or ascertain which combinations had the most effect. Second, some immediacy behaviors operate at low levels of awareness or at a subliminal level and cannot be accurately reported by either the interactants or trained observers when coding interactions.”  Housel and Wheeler (1980) say that nonverbal behavior plays a significant role in communicative interaction.  “It is the precise manner in which nonverbal reinforcement affects interaction in dyadic situations that is in need of additional clarification,” (Housel & Wheeler, 1980).  The investigation of reinforcement is only preliminary in developing this framework in dealing directly with interaction.



Example study: What does that smile mean?  The meaning of nonverbal behaviors in social interaction




How this construct relates to Ag Communication issues:

I relate this construct and agriculture issues together through the case of a first impression.  Regardless of the situation, the obvious immediacy behaviors are easily sought out, but not necessarily interpreted as having a particular meaning.  Because different behaviors mean different things and these vary depending on the situation, it is hard to say that interpretation of these behaviors is completely accurate.  I think this construct and the idea of how it plays a role in first impressions is completely applicable to communication in agriculture today.  Regardless of whether a person with very little or no knowledge of agriculture sees an advertisement on television or sees a farmer working in his/her field, that no-knowledge individual is going to make a judgment and have an initial impression of agriculture based on what has been put before him/her.  If on TV or even in person a farmer seems happy and friendly, gives a smile, a solid handshake, gives open and warming gestures to the no-knowledge individual, then that individual may have a different opinion of agriculture because of that interaction.  We are not always aware of the effect nonverbal cues can have on us, but they, in fact, can make or break an interaction and its potential in the future.  First impressions and the nonverbal cues drawn from them can many times have more of an impact than anything said (“actions speak louder than words”).


Theory Wiki:

There are a multitude of communication theories, more than any course can cover in a quarter well.  I want you to find three theories not discussed in class and post them to our Ag Comm theory wiki. Your entry shall include the following: Theory Name, Main authors, Brief Description, Link to an example study, how it can relate to an agricultural communication problem/issue. You will also present your theory briefly in class. Please be sure to put your name next to your additions.



Social Identity Theory  

(Carla Jagger) 


Main authors: Henri Tajfel and John Turner (1979)



Description: A person has multiple selves as opposed to one “personal self”; these selves correspond to widening circles of group membership i.e. family, personal, national levels of self. An individual will think, feel and act on these different levels of self, depending on the social contexts they are in. Social Identity Theory asserts that while in groups the membership of that group creates self-categorization and enhancement that favor the in-group at the expense of the out-group. An example of this is when you are with a group in another country (i.e. study abroad) you tend band together and in some cases by making comments about the natives of the country you’re in.



Example study:

 Turner, J., Brown, R., & Tajfel, H. (1979, June). Social comparison and group interest

ingroup favouritism. European Journal of Social Psychology, 9(2), 187-204.



Relation to Ag Communication issues:

I think that this theory relates to just about any issue we have in agriculture and ag communications. We always seem to put people in two groups those that know agriculture and those that don’t and all too often in conversation we draw ourselves to the group of people that we identify with the most (those that know about agriculture) by making fun of or commenting about how little the general public knows about agriculture.  When issues come up like animal welfare, environmental issues, etc. it might be a good idea to pull people from the out-group in so we get more perspectives of the problem and look at the issue in a 360 degree manner.



Kirk – Wiki Theory 1

Theory Name.  Social Marketing

Main Authors.  Kotler & Zaltman (1971);  Lefebvre & Flora (1988); Kotler, Roberto, & Lee (2002)

Brief Description.  Introduced in the early 1970’s as a “promising framework for planning and implementing social change (Kotler & Zaltman, 1971, p. 3), Social Marketing involves the “use of marketing principles and techniques to influence a target audience to voluntarily accept, reject, modify, or abandon a behavior for the benefit individuals, groups or society as a whole” (Kotler, Roberto, & Lee, 2002, p. 5).  It has been, and continues to be, used primarily in the public health promotion arena around the world.  Core elements generally include audience research, market segmentation, message tailoring, and multiple messaging pathways.  Additionally, the “five P’s” of effective marketing—product (behavior that needs changed), price (costs of not changing/benefits of changing), place (where messages are deployed), promotion (how messages are deployed), and positioning (increasing or decreasing psycho-social appeal)—guide Social Marketing practice.  Social Marketing may be more of an approach than an actual theory in its own right, as it builds on and incorporates many psycho-social, communication, and marketing theories (those that are most relevant for the given topic) to maximize the likelihood of behavior change.

Example Study Link-


Lyzun, K., & McMullen, A. (2009, February). 'Prostate Man', the ageing superhero: A unique approach to encouraging prostate health awareness among men over 50. Journal of Communication in Healthcare, 2(1), 7-19. Retrieved July 7, 2009, from Communication & Mass Media Complete database

How It Relates.  Social Marketing is useful as an over-arching umbrella approach that can help organize and guide a messaging campaign.  Perhaps the most useful part is the significant focus and effort it specifies be conducted up-front to develop a thorough understanding of the intended audiences.  From there, targeted messages to be delivered via specific communication channels can be created that will best reach the different segments of the audience.


Kirk – Wiki Theory 2

Theory Name.  Action Assembly Theory

Main Authors.  Greene (1984 & 2006)

Brief Description.  Action Assembly Theory is a cognitive/thinking theory concerned with how humans respond to social and psychological stimuli to select and/or invent “ideations” (ideations are conceptualizations, a.k.a. thoughts, of which a person is aware) which then form the foundation for what is said (out-loud or privately to oneself).  Ideations are products of an assembly process in which many past procedural records, mental storage units of past life experiences and actions that are linked to specific conditions and/or situation, are evoked by words, images, and non-verbal cues.  Procedural records that fit-together, as if completing a puzzle, come together in a process called coalition formation.  Only those coalitions that become sufficiently large endure long enough to enter consciousness, thereby becoming an ideation that can be acted upon.  The theory speculates that there are thousands and thousands of procedural records that are sifted through in spit seconds to arrive at an actual ideation.  If the stimuli are novel, the ‘best match’ of past procedural records are pulled that would most approximate the new stimuli.  This assembly and disassembly mechanism is how thoughts grow and change.  New bits of procedural records can be incorporated, while old bits that no longer fit can be left out, however, the old bits still jockey for their spot in the coalition, which can create tension once the though enters consciousness.  At that point, the executive function of the mind attempts to make sense of the conflicting information.  These coalitions and resulting ideations are more transient than they are stable, staying in consciousness only as long as the context and conversation require.  If needed, they will be reassembled again.

Example Study Link-


Hample, D., Gordy, C., Sellie, A., Wright, M., & Zanolla, D. (2008, July). Inventional Repertoires and Written Messages. Communication Studies, 59(3), 220-234. Retrieved July 7, 2009, doi:10.1080/10510970802257630


How It Relates.  Action Assembly Theory might help us better understand the ELM and central versus peripheral route processing.  When we are attentive, the assembly process is central, when we are not attentive, the assembly process may not become completely aware to us.  AAT also helps explain why having context that resonates with and is salient to the intended audience is important—the more relevant the content, the more likely that there are existing procedural records to draw upon in the coalition formation process.  AAT also suggests why making connections with “similar to” objects (e.g. HSUS showing a cute kitten when they are targeting turkeys raised in cages) may activate a “close enough” assembly process in the mind of the viewer.  It also seems to suggest that it might take incremental steps to alter ideations over time, especially if the only mechanism for experiencing the “object” is though mental manipulation.


Kirk – Wiki Theory 3

Theory Name.  Expectancy Violation Theory

Main Authors.  Burgoon and various colleagues (1976, 1978, 1988, 1993, 1995)

Brief Description. Expectancy Violation Theory (EVT) originated in the late 1970’s with the “personal space” research of J. Burgoon in which she examined expectations for and violations of personal space.  Over time, the theory evolved from being solely focuses on nonverbal to communication in general.  EVT has several components; it proposes that:

·         we have 2 kinds of expectations of others:

o   1) predictive, based on past experiences

§  e.g., my wife always gives me a goodbye kiss before leaving for work in the morning

o   2) prescriptive, based on social norms

§  e.g., we shake hands or give a pat when greeting friends in the US, but in France they greet with smooches on the cheek

·         our expectations are influenced by 3 things:

o   communicator characteristics – demographic type variables

o   relational characteristics – nature of our relationship with the communicator

o   context – environment and norms of social interaction given that context

·         violations of expectations will occur, and we view these violations with:

o   positive valence– the unexpected behavior is viewed positively

§  e.g., a usually rude bank teller is nice to you

o   negative valence– your friend always calls, but didn’t

·         the degree of valence depends on the degree of importance

·         communication that matches expectations (pos or neg) will be less impactful than communication that violates expectancies, with positive valence giving more positive outcomes than normal and negative valence giving more negative outcomes than normal

Example Study Links-(I like the 2nd one). 


Cohen, E. (2007, 2007 Annual Meeting). Expectancy Violations in Relationships With Friends and Media Figures. Conference Papers -- International Communication Association, Retrieved July 7, 2009, from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.


Stephens, K., Houser, M., & Cowan, R. (2008, 2008 Annual Meeting). R U Able to Meat Me: The Impact of Students' Overly Casual E-Mail Messages to Instructors. Conference Papers -- International Communication Association, Retrieved July 7, 2009, from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

How It Relates.  EVT suggest that we need to understand the expectations our target audience has of us so that we can choose to maintain the status quo, or surprise them with an atypical, yet still positive, message, to possible gain greater favor or more positive regard.  It also suggests that we be cognizant of the characteristics of the communication channel we choose, the nature of our relationship with the audience, and the context in which the expectations were developed, as well as those in which they will be consumed.





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