U

Uncertainty and Communication

Dale Brashers

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Uncertainty has been an important concept in communication theory for many decades (→ Uncertainty Reduction Theory). Understanding how people respond to uncertainty in developing relationships (→ Relational Uncertainty) and in intercultural encounters has been the foundation of a large body of interpersonal communication research. This work has demonstrated complex relationships between communication, → information seeking, and the management of uncertainty (→ Uncertainty Management). “Uncertainty exists when details of situations are ambiguous, complex, unpredictable, or probabilistic; when information is unavailable or inconsistent; and when people feel insecure in their own state of knowledge or the state of knowledge in general” (Brashers 2001, 478).

Recent theory-building and theory-testing have extended the concept into the domains of social influence and behavioral change, primarily through → health communication research. Theories of communication and uncertainty management, motivated information management, problematic integration, and the risk-perception attitude are recent theoretical directions that recognize the complexity of uncertainty and information management in the area of health. Social influence researchers have used theories of → information processing and uncertainty management in recent research on health behavior change. Other related areas of research have included ...

Get The Concise Encyclopedia of Communication now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.