COM200 Five Stages for Staying Together (Mark Knapp)

Description

In his book Social Intercourse; From Greeting to Goodbye (1978), Mark Knapp introduced his Interaction Stages based on Altman and Taylors Social Penetration theory. In the book, Knapp identifies five relational stages for coming together and five for coming apart. What he does not do is identify the stages that represent staying together.

Your task is to develop at least five stages for Staying Together that fit with Knapp’s model specifically and Social Penetration theory in general. Identify each stage by name, clearly define each stage, and provide a real example with dialogue for each stage. Also, identify the type(s) of relationships that Knapp and your model’s stages do and do not represent, and provide a rationale.

Assignment
In his book Social Intercourse; From Greeting to Goodbye (1978),
Mark Knapp introduced his Interaction Stages based on Altman and
Taylors Social Penetration theory. In the book, Knapp identifies five
relational stages for coming together and five for coming apart. What
he does not do is identify the stages that represent staying together.
Your task is to develop at least five stages for Staying Together that
fit with Knapp’s model specifically and Social Penetration theory in
general. Identify each stage by name, clearly define each stage, and
provide a real example with dialogue for each stage. Also, identify the
type(s) of relationships that Knapp and your model’s stages do and
do not represent, and provide a rationale.
Stage
Initiation
Experimenting
Intensifying
Integrating
Bonding
Differentiating
Circumscribing
Stagnating
Avoiding
Terminating
Knapp’s Relationship Stages
Definition
><
First Contact
X
Asking Questions
X
Expression of Feelings
X
Sharing Things
X
Social Confirmation
X
Re-establish Identity
Communication Limits
No Growth, No Enthusiasm
Creating Distance
Ending the Relationship
==
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Initiation[edit]
Initiation is the first stage where individuals make their first impressions on each
other. While a lot of important impressions are being processed, the actual
initiation stage likely lasts less than 15 seconds. In this stage, individuals are
trying to display their best selves. Also, we are observing the other person to
learn about them and, therefore, reduce our own uncertainty. Physical
appearance often plays a big role in this stage when it comes to forming first
impressions.
The methods and messages used to initiate communication vary based on:[4]:18.
The kind of relationship and whether or not the individuals have been through
this stage before
• The time allowed for the interaction
• The amount of time since the last greeting
• Situational or normative constraints
• Special codes of particular groups
Experimentation[edit]
Experimentation is the stage where individuals begin to engage in self-disclosure to learn
information about each other. The individuals use this stage to explore and get a feel for the
relationship as well as one another.[5] Small talk is a common form of communication in this
stage, as both parties use it to search for an area of common interest of experience. At this
stage, relationships are generally pleasant, casual, and uncritical. Knapp has long
emphasized that most relationships will not progress past this stage.[4]:19[3]:40
Intensifying[edit]
During the intensifying stage of Knapp’s model, the two individuals will continue
experimentations to determine whether there is mutual emotional affection and attachment.
Whereas in the previous experimentation phase, conversation focused more on superficial
topics such as discovering shared areas of interest and commonalities, in the intensifying
stage the level of self-disclosure deepens. The breadth of topics discussed broadens and the
depth in which each individual feels comfortable discussing those topics with the other
becomes intimate and personal.
In this stage, certain behaviors, such as increasing one-on-one contact through more
frequent communication (through face to face encounters, text, or phone calls), doing favors
for a partner or offering gifts as tokens of affection, requesting commitment from a partner
through direct definitional bid, personalized verbal expressions of affection such as “I love
you” or assigning pet names such as “babe,” and suggestive actions such as flirtation,
gazing, or touching, may all emerge as methods of intensifying the connection between the
two people.
Essential to the intensifying stage are “secret tests”[6] performed by each individual to
ascertain whether his or her overtures are actually helpful in their intensification efforts.
These tests most often manifest themselves through:





Endurance, in which a partner is placed in an unpleasant, inconvenient, or
uncomfortable situation or respond to certain requests to determine his or her
commitment to the relationship.
Public presentation during which a partner is introduced under a particular label such as
“boyfriend” or “girlfriend” to see if they are comfortable with being identified in this
manner.
Separation, which tests whether communication and feelings of affection will continue
despite an inability to physically be together.
Third-party questioning, where one partner may attempt to find out the hidden feelings of
the interested party indirectly by asking a friend to probe the person of interest for
indication as to their depth of feeling and affection.
Triangle tests, in which one partner sees if they can elicit jealousy from the other partner
when another person expresses interest in the person concocting the test.
While all five of these methods are common methods of testing intensification efforts, it’s
important to note that endurance, separation, and triangle tests are generally the least
constructive, and can even be destructive when it comes to building the relationship.[7]:227–228
Phase of coming together and Relational
Maintenance[edit]
Integration[edit]
Once each individual feels confident, through their various intensification efforts, that mutual
affection has been confirmed, the couple may begin to transition into the integration stage of
their relationship. In addition to bonding, the integration stage makes up maintenance stage
of a relationship. During this stage, the couple is fused and elements of their respective
social identities, such as friends, belongings, and living spaces, are now shared. Other
verbal and nonverbal manifestations of the integration include the couple seeing their
relationship as special or unique in some way, the exchange of “trophies” for the other to
wear or display, and potentially similarities in manner, dress, and verbal behavior can be
seen.[4]:20 Today, another indicator of integration can be seen on social media sites where
partners can be seen in each other’s profile picture.[8] Additionally, the exclusive commitment
each partner has for the other is generally solidified in this stage through even deeper selfdisclosure and revealing of secrets, sex, and discussion of future plans.[7]:228
Bonding[edit]
The final stage of the coming together half of the relational model is bonding. This stage puts
the relationship on public display and suggests that the relationship is exclusive. This stage
often involves marriage or another type of public contract, though marriage is not necessary
to successfully bond. There is usually a turning point that happens in this stage that signals a
change in the relationship, making the relationship intimate. Reaching this stage does not
guarantee that the relationship will remain bonded, though many intimate relationships will
remain in this stage until divorce, death, or another type of separation.[7]:228–229
Phase of coming apart and Relational Maintenance[edit]
Along with the coming together stages, all relationships will go through the coming apart
stages of the relational development model, though some may skip steps (e.g. a sudden
death terminating the relationship).
Differentiating[edit]
Differentiating is a process of disengaging or uncoupling. During this stage, differences
between the relationship partners are emphasized and what was thought to be similarities
begins to disintegrate. Instead of working together, partners quickly begin to become more
individualistic in their attitudes. Conflict is a common form of communication during this
stage; oftentimes, it acts as a way to test how much the other can tolerate something that
may threaten the relationship. Knapp believes that differentiating can be the result of bonding
too quickly; meaning, sufficient breadth and depth (see: Social penetration theory) was not
established during the previous stages.[4]:23 However, differentiating is expected to happen in
romantic relationships. A common solution to differentiating is for each partner to give the
other some space, though extreme differentiating can lead to a damaged relationship.[7]:228–229
Circumscribing[edit]
Circumscribing sees a qualitative and quantitative decrease in information exchange.
Communication is limited to safe topics. This stage is marked by less total communication in
terms of number of interactions, depth and breadth of topics discussed, and communication
occurs in shorter durations. Expressions of love and commitment also decrease.[4]:24
Phase of coming apart[edit]
Stagnation[edit]
In the stagnation stage, what were once patterns in the relationship become ruts and people
feel stuck or trapped in the relationship. Communication in this stage sees partners saying
very little because they “know” how the other person will respond. Individuals will engage
in imagined interactions to predict a conversation with their partner.[9] These imaginary
dialogues can be either narratives (“I’ll say this, and then she’ll say this…”) or perceived
actual dialogues (“I’ll do it.” “You don’t have to.”).
At this stage, there is still some hope that the relationship can be revived. However, in many
cases there are too many costs accumulating and, therefore, most do not stay at this stage
for long. A key reason why individuals stay in this stage is to avoid the pain associated with
terminating the relationship.[3]:45
Avoidance[edit]
While the stagnation stage sees partners continue to inhabit the same environment,
the avoidance stage sees partners exist in separate physical environments. When actual
avoidance cannot take place, however, partners will simply avoid each other while they’re
together, treating the other as if they didn’t exist. Essentially, the individuals in the
relationship become separate from one another physically, emotionally, and mentally. When
there is communication, it is often marked by antagonism or unfriendliness (“I just don’t want
to see or talk to you”).[4]:26 In addition to not spending time with one another, they both begin
to avoid the other person’s needs and start to focus solely on themselves.
Different forms of distancing are also common at this stage:[10]



Avoidance: preventing or reducing interaction during an encounter
Disengagement: hiding information and interacting in a less personal manner
Cognitive dissociation: disregarding messages and showing cognitive or emotional
detachment
Termination[edit]
During the termination stage, both people that were in the relationship decide to end their
connection with one another. No longer are they both receiving a mutually satisfying
outcome from being with one another. Neither one of them is happy and the relationship
must come to an end. In this model, this step is unavoidable and relationships can terminate
at any time. Termination can occur due to physical separation, growing socially or
psychologically apart, or the death of one of the partners. Communication in this stage is
marked by distance (an attempt to put psychological and physical barriers between partners)
and disassociation (messages that prepare one or both parties for their life without the
other).
Resources: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knapp%27s_relational_development_model

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