Motivation and emotion/Book/2022/Closeness communication bias
Why does it occur, and how can it be overcome?
Communication is an essential part of human beingsever day social lives. Effective communication helps us connect with others, build relationships, and can allow us the opportunity to share experiences, interests, and needs (Savitsky et al., 2011). People commonly believe that the closer we are to someone the better we would understand and communicate with them. This can include a romantic partner, friend or colleague. However, research suggests that closeness can more commonly have a negative impact on the delivery and or the interpretation and acceptance of communication and lead people to overestimating how well they communicate, this concept is known as closeness-communication bias (Ballerstädt, 2022). It is important that more people are aware and understand closeness-communication bias and that they are given an opportunity to reflect and learn about the positive impact knowledge on the topic as well as knowledge on motivational impacts can have in their relationships to overcome this unconscious bias.
What is the closeness-communication bias?Edit
Closeness-communication bias is the theory that the closer we are to people the less effective our communication can be with them (Van Der Wege et al., 2021). This is understood to occur because of the belief that we know our people we are close to so well our conscious mind loosesfocus of details during conversations with them and our unconscious mind tends take over not fully listen and make assumptions . Closeness can lead to people overestimating how good their communication skills are in thinking they would communicate better with someone they were in a relationship with compared to a stranger (Dubois et al., 2023). Closeness communication bias often leads to egocentric errors. Studies have found that when people interact with those unfamiliar to them they pay more attention whereas when people interact with those familiar and close to them they rely less on paying attention and more on their own perspectives and beliefs. This unfortunately often lead to negative outcomes in relationships (Young, 2020).
In behavioral experiments, researchers first paired individuals with their close friends or partners and then with strangers. In each scenario, the researchers asked the participants to interpret what their partners were saying. The subjects predicted that they would more accurately understand what their partners were saying than the strangers but the results showed that they understood them no better than the strangers. Often, they understood them less well! (Murphy, 2020)
Why does it occur?Edit
When people build close relationships with others they develop an unconscious tendency to let assumptions and personal perspective take over. Our brains are influenced by stored information and experience. The brain is wired to simplify information processing which can lead to errors in communication (Huckle, 2022). When thinking and the process of decision making occur during a conversation with someone close to us our attention whilst the other person is talking is low and our brain tends to go into auto pilot and interpret perceptions of the situation based off external beliefs, preferences, and past personal experiences (Faulmüller et.al., 2012).
The unconscious mind is responsible for many mental processes that influence feelings, judgments, and behaviours. According to Freud, the primary source for behaviour is the unconscious mind. Our feelings, motives, decisions and the way in which we communicate is heavily influenced by our past experiences stored in the unconscious (Mcleod, 2015). An example of this is a Freudian slip when speaking to someone you're close to you may be quite relaxed and not be paying full attention and misinterpret something being said and slip say something incorrect to the conversation (Mcleod, 2015).
Communication and motivationEdit
Motivation is the process that influences, guides, and maintains behaviours that are usually goal orientated (Sands, 2021).
There are two main types of motivation these are intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation meanings/examples
|Type of motivation||Meaning||Example|
|Intrinsic||Motivation that is influenced by internal factors||1.Playing a soccer game because you enjoy the sport
2.Studying because you enjoy learning new things
|Extrinsic||Motivation that is influenced external factors||1.Playing a soccer game because you want to win the trophy
2.Studying because you want to get a good grade
Closeness-communication bias theory discusses that we unintentionally tend to be motivated to pay more attention to detail and verbal and nonverbal cues whilst communicating with a stranger. Because we have no previous understanding or assumptions about the person we concentrate and listen more attentively (Cherry, 2022). Study authors suggest that when being close to someone we are more likely to show the illusion of understanding instead of actually understanding by letting internal perspective guide communication rather than paying attention to what is being said to them and what they are saying in return (Young, 2020). Motivation is one of the most important factors in guiding behaviour. Understanding and learning to be motivated against closeness-communication bias behaviours is essential in reducing the problem and maintaining positive relationships with healthy communication skills (Sands, 2021). If people understood and we're able to process and understand the negative effects closeness communication bias may be having in their close social relationships they might become more motivated during communication with them.
Theories of motivationEdit
Maslow's hierarchy of needsEdit
Hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory based offhuman needs displayed as hierarchal levels on a pyramid . The needs begin from the bottom to the top of the pyramid once the first need is satisfied you then are motivated to progress to the next level. The needs include physiological (food and clothing), safety (job security), love and belonging needs (friendship), esteem, and self-actualization (McLeod, 2010). When you're in the building stages of relationships working to become close with them this is when you would be in the third stage love/belonging. This level focuses on the connecting with people to feel a sense of belonging, developing trust and receiving and giving affection and acceptance. During this stage as you are not close yet people tend to be motivated by their desire to connect and belong with people which influences a person to effectively communicate and get to know one another and their values, beliefs and interests (Sands, 2021). Once this need is met you move into the fourth level of Esteem. This is where a person is motivated to accomplish personal achievements, build upon self esteem and worth and builds confidence. During this stage of independence and satisfaction after being out of level three (love/belonging) confidence can build to strong and lead into closeness communication bias which can have a negative impact on your communication skills with people you're close to and have now built relationships with (McLeod, 2010).
Pick a response
The incentive behavioural theory suggests people are motivated by an ongoing desire for incentives and reinforcement (Cherry, 2022). It is the understanding people are drawn to behaviours that result in reward and discouraged from engaging in behaviours that may lead to punishment. Social, physiological and cognitive factors play a significant role in what a person finds motivating it could include things such as money in a job and needing to communicate effectively to get paid, or keeping regular communication with a group of friends to not risk loosing the friendships (Cherry, 2022). When avoiding closeness-communication bias and wanting to maintain healthy communication and positive relationships with those you're close to it is important to understand their values to understand how to support and motivate them through incentives or reinforcement.
Strengths and limitations of psychological theories
|Maslow's hierarchy of needs||Provides useful summary of human needs||No way to measure satisfaction levels to progress higher|
|Incentive theory||provides common ways to motivate people to create behavioural habits||Is not always successful long term|
Influence of closeness-communication biasEdit
People are changing every day through our daily interactions and experiences. When spending all day every day with people at work it is easy to fall into the closeness communication bias with your work colleague. When we begin to assume what someone is thinking or what they are going to say next it creates the risk for miscommunication through closeness-communication bias (Impey, 2022). Too often in the workplace do people fall into these habits of assuming you know what they mean and vice versa. This often leads to both people not feeling understood and not feeling confident in understanding what they need to (Young, 2020). This can have some significant negative impacts with motivation and successful performance.
The closeness- communication bias not only effects how we listen to those we are close to but it also effects how they may listen to us. This tends to then become a negative reinforcement of the relationship when not feeling heard or supported (Gagné, 2004). This can often lead to relationships drift or fall apart and pushes people to pull away and communicate their issues with those they are not close to. Sometimes people can build a large ego and or become overconfident in close relationships which can lead to not wanting to be vulnerable in communication or discuss certain topics where they may receive criticism or judgement (Van Der Wege et al., 2021).
"accurately understanding another person often requires a second thought to think, wait a minute, is this really what this person meant?.. we just don't do that as much with those we are close to because we assume we know what they are saying and that they know what we are saying". - Nicholas Epley (University of Chicago)
How can it be overcome?Edit
This is the most simple but can often be the first thing to be forgotten during communication with those we are close to. It is important to always make a conscious effort to listen to others and display the behaviour you would want in return (Ballerstädt, 2022). By showing full body listening (using eye contact and facing your whole body toward the person you're communicating with) it can help with maintaining focus and attention.
Gottman's 20 minute conversationEdit
Thisis also known as 'stress reducing conversation' . It is important to maintain healthy relationships and avoid closeness communication bias that there is intentional time talk, listen, and ask questions regularly. By creating a habit of consistent effective communication it helps maintain an understanding of each other build safety and trust (Yoo, 2019). This can look like a meeting at the office regularly, having dedicated time as a couple to talk each night whilst having dinner, or simply going for a walk with a friend and practicing listening and asking questions.
One of the most common issues with closeness-communication bias is the assumptions people create in their head whilst communicating with someone of guessing what they are thinking or going to say next rather than listening and processing the information they are expressing as it comes (Dubois et.al., 2016). It is important to understand that every person is constantly experiencing and learning new things that are going to impact them to be continually changing and growing. It essential that people avoid making and voicing their assumptions and instead listen and ask questions.
Increasing awareness of personal biasesEdit
Humans are faced with many similar and different biases from personal experience whether that is within different aspects of communication or in other areas of their social life (Cherry, 2022). By taking the time to research and increase your understanding and awareness of the many biases that are present in your behaviour in everyday life it can help in working toward controlling those behaviours and minimising them having a negative impact on your communication and interaction with those close to you.
Invite feedback/ask questionsEdit
After expressing information to someone it is important to pause and provide the person you are communicating with regular opportunities to ask question to gain a better understanding of what you may be asking or wanting to discuss. It can also be beneficial when you are having a conversation and you're speaking to end your part with an open ended question and then just listen respectfully to their response (Impey, 2022).
“the sure thing is that if you don’t work at communication, the relationship will deteriorate over time, just like a car that’s not taken care of will fall apart.” John Gottman
This is a quiz to conceptual understanding! Select your answer for each question then press submit!
Communication is an important part of our everyday lives as social beings. Research suggests when building relationships and becoming close to someone skills in effective communication can often be lost due to closeness-communication bias (Murphy, 2020). Closeness-communication bias occurs due to people becoming overconfident and creating ideas and assumptions of what the other person is thinking or what they are going to say rather than keeping an open mind and listening carefully as they would with a stranger (Dubois et al., 2016). To overcome this issue it is important people take time to research, learn and understand biases they may have as well as motivational theories and their impact. Motivation guides and maintains behaviours and by understanding what motivates you and taking time to understand ask questions to those you are close to on what motivates them (Sands, 2021). It can support positive interactions and communication with whomever you are close to whether that is someone from work or personal life.
- Autonomy support and motivation (Book Chapter, 2020)
- Cognitive evaluation theory and motivation (Book Chapter, 2021)
- Intrinsic & Extrinsic motivation (Book Chapters, 2013)
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