COMM Theoretical Application Paper Outline

COMM Theoretical Application Paper Outline

Author’s Name

Institutional Affiliation

COMM Theoretical Application Paper Outline

The Theory Chosen

The theory I have chosen is the social penetration theory. Other materials that offer detailed information about this theory besides the class textbook include scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles. Dalmas Taylor and Irwin Altman were the psychologists who originally came up with this theory. They coined it to describe how relationships between individuals develop and progress, along with how communication enriches these relationships. The theory’s specifics are that satisfactory interactions generated through relational closeness or social penetration as communication deepens lead to favorable and firm relationships.

Brief Findings Regarding Peer-Reviewed Sources

I have found five scholarly peer-reviewed articles regarding this theory. The first is a study by Mangus et al. (2020), who used a social penetration theory perspective to explore the effects of customer-felt relationship empathy and mutual information sharing on relationship outcomes. Their method of study was qualitative involving semi-structured interviews. Their key finding was that disclosure content through information sharing and customer-felt relationship empathy are vital in establishing advanced buyer-seller relationships.

The second was an article by Mısır, Demir, and Koydemir (2019), who examined self-disclosure levels in online communication and how self-disclosure relates to perceived interpersonal competence based on the social penetration theory. Their method of study involved a questionnaire-based survey. Their findings were that higher levels of shyness lead to a weaker association between online self-disclosure and perceived interpersonal competence.

The third was an article by Panos (2014), who traced how Internet media users’ attitudes, behaviors, and opinions have changed with the transition from the Web 1.0 period to the Web 2.0 period. The author adopted a qualitative paradigm involving an empirical research project-based approach and the social penetration theory as the conceptual framework. The findings were that changes have occurred in information about interpersonal communication management in online communication over the years.

The fourth is an article by Rains, Brunner, and Oman (2016), who utilized the social penetration theory perspective to study the implications of superficial self-disclosures from friends using communication technologies. The study covered the themes of relationship satisfaction, liking, and willingness to offer social support. These authors used a questionnaire-based social support survey as their method. Their results were that significant interactions exist between the number of self-disclosures received and that of superficial disclosures for both relationship satisfaction and liking.

The last source is an article by Tang and Wang (2012), who used the social penetration theory to explore the themes disclosed by bloggers in the real world and on their blogs. They used online questionnaire methods in this study. The findings were that firstly, bloggers disclose a broad gamut of topics. Secondly, their depth of self-disclosure to three target audiences, namely, online audience, best friends, and parents) varies depending on the target audience. They express themselves the most to their best friends and then their parents, with their expression being the least to online audiences.

Context/Social Phenomena to be Discussed Using the Theory

The applied context or social phenomena that I will discuss using this theory will be the familial relationships that occur among relatives. I will use the theory to explain the role played by disclosures and self‐disclosure functions in the development of familial relationships among close family members.

Use of the Theory to Design an Applied Project

I will employ the social penetration theory as the framework for justifying the creation of a tangible applied project relating to feasible interventions for robust interactions and interpersonal communication among members of a family. I will use this theory because it provides the best framework for comprehending both the breadth and depth of familial relationships, and the degree of penetration in these relationships.


Mangus, S. M., Bock, D. E., Jones, E., & Folse, J. A. G. (2020). Examining the effects of mutual information sharing and relationship empathy: A social penetration theory perspective. Journal of Business Research, 109, 375-384. Doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.12.019.

Mısır, S., Demir, A., & Koydemir, S. (2019). The relationship between perceived interpersonal competence and self‐disclosure in an online context: The moderating role of shyness. International Journal of Psychology, 1-8. Doi: 10.1002/ijop.12623.

Panos, D. (2014). “I” on the web: Social penetration theory revisited. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(19), 185-185. Doi: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n19p185.

Rains, S. A., Brunner, S. R., & Oman, K. (2016). Self-disclosure and new communication technologies: The implications of receiving superficial self-disclosures from friends. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 33(1), 42-61. Doi: 10.1177/0265407514562561.

Tang, J. H., & Wang, C. C. (2012). Self-disclosure among bloggers: Re-examination of social penetration theory. Cyber-psychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15(5), 245-250. Doi: 10.1089/cyber.2011.0403.