Theoretical Perspectives

Uncertainty Reduction Theory

Uncertainty reduction theory (Berger, 1979; Berger & Calabrese, 1975) focuses on the ways in which people gather information about one another, how individuals monitor their social environments and how they come to know more about themselves. For the purpose of the proposed intercultural training program, uncertainty reduction theory was the driving force behind the research.

The uncertainty reduction theory allows military members to understand the Arabic culture which, in turn, should aid in the development of an acceptance of the differences between American and Arabic lifestyles. There are three basic strategies to reduce uncertainty (Infante, Rancier & Womack, 1996).

Passive strategies involve observation of a person or people in their environment. In this case, a video documenting the Arabic lifestyle could be viewed by military members before deploying. This video would clarify contrasts of cultures (i.e., it would show the importance of religion as a way of life, varying roles of family members, work ethics, and gender bias.

Active strategies require more effort on the part of servicemembers because they must make a concerted effort to gather information. However, there is still no interaction between deploying troops and people of the host nation. All information is garnered from a third party. Active strategies may already be ongoing as troops preparing for an overseas tour to the Arab Gulf Region seek out people returning from a tour there to ask questions regarding their experiences.

Interactive strategies include obtaining information directly from the source through interrogation and self-disclosure. This strategy could be applied once military members arrive at their deployed location. A representative from the Arabic community could hold small seminars encouraging a free exchange of information and ideals.

Uncertainty reduction theory is a process that helps American military members understand the Arabic culture better. As the uncertainty is reduced, the ability of deployed servicemembers to predict the behaviors of Saudis Arabians and Kuwaitis is enhanced fostering the development of familiarity. Next

Introduction Background Rationale Methods Conclusion

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