CHAPTER TWO SELF-DISCLOSURE
Among the various human activities that clearly render an individual human, is self-disclosure. Morris and Burnard (1992 : 60) maintain that self-disclosure is the most basic fonn of human encounter in which man reveals himself to another. In this regard Harris, Dersch and Mittal (1999 : 405) argue that it is a spontaneous everyday life activity whose existence in a developing child starts to reveal itself from the time when a need to express one’s inner subjective world in a meaningful way arises. This is the time when a need to share one’s emotions with other individuals in order to establish meaningful relationships becomes an issue during adolescence (Cook, 2000 : 286).
Hurlock (1980 : 232) reasons that the value adolescents attach to self-disclosure in the establishment of relationships is indicated by the extent to which they engage in self-disclosure activities during adolescent years as compared to their earlier developmental period. He asserts that self-disclosure increases dramatically from grade eight, and it appears to reach a peak in grade twelve (see figure I).
It this time, self-disclosure appears to favour the peer group than parents because of their eliefthat peers are more understanding of their self-disclosures than their parents, and the Icrease in the development ofa need for autonomy (Rotenberg, 1995 : 210). Consequently, Ie establishment of relationships with peers starts to dominate their activities.
Jnfortunately, many adolescents are unable to make good use of this social skill to build a etwork of relationships for themselves. Perhaps the best possible reason is that this inborn uman activity is applied to their social life in a spontaneous manner with no regard for !chniques to ensure that it provides the user with the desired results.
I.s an inborn spontaneous activity, most individuals know little about it and in some cases, thers do not even know that it exists, or worse still, they are unable to label self-disclosure ctivities as self-disclosure. Under such circumstances, self-disclosure causes uncertainty. hat is, different possible outcomes of self-disclosure can be imagined. This may happen yen where considerable trust exists. When this does happen the development of an intimate ~lationship may be hampered (Sernberg & Barnes, 1988 : 336). Under such circumstances, is not surprisin that adolescents engage in self-disclosure even more intuitively with no onsideration for appropriate ways of self-disclosure that should enable them to avoid risks Ivolved in it.
1 this chapter, the theoretical background ofself-disclosure will be presented so as to shared ght on how it impacts on the establishment of relationships. Its counterpart, which could Iso be regarded as its enemy, that is concealment, will also be presented briefly with a view ) understanding the effects ofputting a balance between the two activities as self-disclosure nd liking are curvilinear, with too little or too much disclosure having a negative effect on king (Tubb & Baird, 1976 : 10). Putting a balance between self-concealment and self-isclosure appears to ensure purposefulness of self-disclosure.
Derlega, Metts, Petronio and Margulis (1993 : 79-83) stress the importance of the :mrposefulness of the self-disclosure content by making reference to the 1960’s opposing views concerning self-disclosure. These views were the “cult of compulsive honesty” and ‘cavalier deception” which referred to total self-disclosure of the disclosure content and ::oncealment of certain information from the relationship partner, respectively. The ::oncealment of information was regarded to be in the interest of the discloser target.
Self-disclosure that takes the two views into consideration appears to ensure that in deciding which self-disclosure content to reveal, one should be guided by whether such content ::ontributes meaningfully towards relationship establishment and maintenance or not. That lS, it should not negatively affect issues of trust, trustworthiness and caring for one’s partner llnnecessarily. For example, in disclosing information about having had an extra-marital Iffair, one should avoid information that does not have a direct bearing on the relationship In any way, like having had trauma in one’s childhood experiences if the trauma has been resolved and has no direct bearing on the issue at hand.
Likewise, Derlega et al. (1993 : 79-83) assert that care should be taken to manage self-iisclosure. That is, while self-disclosure should not be complete, concealment should also lot be such that it compromises a relationship. Self-disclosure should, therefore, be made )nly when the self-disclosure content has the potential of fulfilling a particular purpose.
REASONS FOR SELF-DISCLOSURE
Various authors advance different reasons that explain why people engage in self-disclosure n the establishment and main~enance of relationships. The common denominator of these ‘easons is that individuals engage in them because they are rewarding (Cozby in Kahn, 1976: 1). The following reasons for self-disclosure are based mostly on Taylor et al. (1997: 263) fmdings.
Calhoun and Acocella (1990: 370) argue that human beings have a need to talk about their feelings, thoughts and their experiences so as to sometimes blow off steam. While blowing off steam, they are also compelled to talk about their feelings and thought. It is through self-disclosure that individuals manage to come to a better understanding of their feelings and thoughts. The enhanced understanding ofones’s feelings and thoughts promotes greater self-understanding and self-awareness without which relationship formation is difficult and sometimes impossible.
Self-disclosure helps people to compare their views with those of other people. In this way, individuals find themselves in a position to determine whether their views are appropriate or not. In cases where similarity exists (cf 3.4 .1.2) relationship formation and maintenance thereof becomes a possibility.
Intensity of the self-disclosure material
The degree ofintensity ofthe self-disclosure material makes people to develop a need to talk about their experiences. There are, however, conditions under which the intensity of the self-disclosure material compels people to self-diclose. Finkenauer and Rime (1998 : maintain that self-disclosure is made when the disclosure material is too painful for an individual to bear, although there are times when intense self-disclosure content promotes self-concealment (188.8.131.52 ). Self-disclosure material is difficult to bear when it is troubling.
view reciprocity paves a way for mutual transformativeness, with partners self-disclosure increasing as a result of the perceived growth of the relationship. In this regard Altman and Taylor in Hewstone et al. (1989 : 214) maintain that intimacy results from a relationship that is characterized by reciprocity. of approximately equal valence.
There are various reasons why individuals reciprocate. Firstly, individuals reciprocate because of the urge to demonstrate and return feelings of trust and liking displayed by a discloser in intimate relationships. The explanation of reciprocity based on trust-liking approach holds that the recipient of a disclosure content reciprocates because of the feeling of trust and liking for the discloser. Secondly, according to the equity theory, there must be a flow of self-disclosure of equal intimacy if a relationship is to be maintained. Some individuals, therefore, disclose because they want to establish and maintain relationships (Derlega & Berg, 1987 : 4), especially relationships characterized by intimacy (Wiemer et aI., 1998 : 117).
Concern for others
Over and above the establishment of intimate relationships, Wiemer et al. (1998 : 117) identified the following reasons for self-disclosure which originate from an individual’s concern for others:
- A forewarning to significant others
- A desire to be honest with others
- The urge to offer tangible assistance, for example informational material.
- A desire to educate others
- A desire to protect the feelings of significant others so as avoid harming them psychologically A desire to keep others from making sacrifices
FACTORS ENHANCING SELF-DISCLOSURE
\ccording to Berson and Meisburger (1997: 432) there are strategies that should be taken nto consideration to assist adolescents to self-disclose.
Locus of control
..Joss of locus of control is threatening and it may lead to self-concealment. People should, herefore, be assisted to not to loose it so as to promote self-disclosure. There are various ¥ays of assisting self-disclosers not to loose it. According to Scorzelli and Gold (1999 :. 15) the locus of control may be obtained through the use of multimedia technique. With ‘egard to the use ofthis technique, De Rosa and Marks (1998: 224) found that HN victims’ :elf-disclosure rate increased when exposed to multiple counselling situations, where ‘epetition of a message took the form of multiple sources. These techniques seem to be :ffective if a discloser experiences a sense of safety (Palmer et ai., 1999 : 263).
lhere are various forms of the multimedia technique that may be used. Firstly, according to )e Rosa and Marks (1998 : 224) they may take the form story telling. For example, there lre different types of story techniques that may be used such as the metaphorical :ommunication developed by Garderner. The client tells a story that has a beginning, middle Ifld the ending and after having analyzed the story to identifY thoughts, feelings and Isychological meaning embodied in the story, the therapist narrates a similar story, but with . different meaning. There is also the mutual storytelling game, where the client and the llerapist alternate in narrating a story with the beginning of the story raised by the therapist.
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION, STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM, AIM OF STUDY THE STUDY AND CLARIFICATION OF CONCEPTS
1.2 ANAL YSIS OF THE PROBLEM
1.3 DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
1.4 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.6 CLARIFICATION OFCONCEPTS
1.7 RESEARCH DESIGN
1.8 CHAPTER DIVISION
CHAPTER TWO SELF-DISCLOSURE
2.2 REASONS FOR SELF-DISCLOSURE
2.3 FACTORS ENHANCING SELF-DISCLOSURE
2.4 FORMS OF SELF-DISCLOSURE
2.5 THE NATURE OF SELF-DISCLOSURE CONTENT
CHAPTER THREE INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
3.2 THE DEVELOPMENT OF INTIMACY
3.3 USEFULNESS OF RELATIONSHIPS
3.4 ESTABLISHMENT OF RELATIONSHIPS
3.5 CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH THE ESTABLISHMENT MAINTENANCE OF RELATIONSHIPS TAKE PLACE
3.6 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MALES AND FEMALES RELATIONSHIPS
3.7 THE ROLE OF A FAMILY IN ADOLESCENTS’ RELATIONSHIP ESTABLISHMENT AND MAINTENANCE
3.8 ADOLESCENT’S GROUPINGS
3.9 TYPES OF RELATIONSlllPS
3.10 CAUSES OF RELATIONSlllP BREAKDOWN
3.11 INDICATORS OF A COLLAPSING RELATIONSlllP
CHAPTER FOUR RESEARCH METHOD AND DESIGN
t 1 INTRODUCTION
t2 PURPOSE OF THE RESEARCH
lo5 RESEARCH METHOD
L6 RESEARCH DESIGN
“.7 CHARACTERISTICS OF A TRUSTWORTHY RESEARCH STRATEGY
4.8 ETHICAL ISSUES
CHAPTER FIVE FOCUS GROUP INTERVIEWS
5.2 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
CHAPTER SIX FINDINGS AND INTERPRETATION OF THIS STUDY
5.2 DISCUSSION OF THEMES AND CATEGORIES IDENTIFIED FROM DATA
CHAPTER SEVEN CONCLUSIONS, GUIDELINES AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THIS STUDY
7.2 PURPOSE OF THE RESEARCH
7.3 SUMMARY OF LITERATURE AND EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION
7.4 LITERATURE AND EMPIRICAL CONCLUSIONS THAT THIS STUDY’S GUIDELINES
7.5 THE PROPOSED GUIDELINES
7.6 SHORTCOMINGS OF THIS STUDY
7.7 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY
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