Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Orientation Stage of the Social Penetration Theory


The movie 50 First Dates is an exemplary film for the Social Penetration Theory.  In this movie, Drew Barrymore’s character suffers from short-term memory loss from a previous car accident.  Adam Sandler meets Barrymore at a small breakfast diner, and tries to pursue her.  When he finds out about Barrymore’s condition, he attempts to get her attention every morning at the diner using many diverse tactics.  In this particular clip, we see Sandler using superficial communication to get Barrymore’s attention.  He pretends that he cannot read the menu in order to get help from Barrymore.  Barrymore does help him through his “reading problem” by sounding out the word.  Even though the conversation is superficial, Barrymore is still very supportive and she never judges Sandler.  The characters do not learn any facts about each other, but they do communicate on a public level. This level of interaction is clearly the orientation stage of the Theory.  The only dysfunction to this stage is the unorthodox behavior of Sandler.  Usually communication at the orientation stage follows the norms of society, but Sandler chooses an obnoxious strategy to gain attention.  Although this clip strays slightly from the true meaning of the orientation stage of the Social Penetration Theory, the overall message is still the same.  Barrymore and Sandler do not self-disclose with each other, and they act at the outer, or public, layer of the onion analogy.  In this clip, they have no breadth or depth to their conversation, which solidifies the fact that they are still in the orientation stage.  

4 comments:

Yifeng Hu said...

It's an interesting, non-typical example of Orientation Stage. However, I think the characters did learn some facts about each other, e.g., the girl is nice, helping, patient, and non-judgmental, the guy has "reading problems" (although faked). Keep in mind that in the orientation stage, people do disclose bits of themselves, although very superficial.

Caressa Slocum said...

I think you did an excellent job of tying in the Orientation Stage of the Social Penetration Theory to the clip of 50 First Dates. Although there was not any breadth or depth to their conversation, Drew Barrymore does become aware of something that Adam Sandler struggles with on a day to day basis, his illiteracy. Also, Adam, despite meeting her numerous times before, learns more about her personality including that she is extremely kind and helpful. Also, although Adam does not act in a way which is typically acceptable near the end, it shows that not all relationships follow linear models, such as the Social Penetration Theory, exactly.

Yifeng Hu said...

Caressa, you have done a good theory critique job by analyzing the clip.

Amanda Coe said...

This is an odd and interesting example since Drew Barrymore's character cannot remember anything past the night before her accident.

You have to wonder, even after they get married at the end, how great their disclosure can be when she must start over each day meeting her husband for the first time.