Date of Award

Spring 1992

Document Type



Communication Studies

First Advisor

Harry Smith

Second Advisor

Shirley Baker

Third Advisor

Erik Pratt


Information transfer is faster and easier than it was five years ago and it is more likely that people from different cultures will meet each other. Most aspects of our lives, from business to television are affected by other cultures. Therefore, being able to establish a rapport with someone from another culture is becoming increasingly important. When we first encounter new people, there are many questions in our minds about them such as who they are, where they come from, what we have in common, whether our attitudes, opinions, and values are similar, etc. All of these questions combine to form uncertainty. Our uncertainty about new people and how we find out more about them is grouped into a body of research called uncertainty reduction theory. The first stages of unified thought under this label applied specifically to intracultural communication, communication among people from the same culture. As time passed and intercultural meetings (between different cultures) became more frequent, uncertainty reduction theory expanded to include information about those meetings. This paper will explain uncertainty reduction theory throughout its development; discuss communication competence (effective and appropriate communication) and attributional confidence as bases for creating interaction strategies; examine some cultural traits and customs which affect uncertainty reduction processes, and list basic differences between communicating within one’s own culture and communicating interculturally.