CONSTRUCTIVISM

Symbolic Interactionism gives us a broad picture of humans as interpretive beings who actively engage in the process of constructing meanings for their activities.

Yet it doesn't explain HOW we go about INTERPRETATING the world to assign meanings. Constructivist Theory attempts to do this.

Constructivist theory accounts for how the interpretive process works. It is the study of what enters and exists the mind. Based on systematic similarities and differences between input and output, cognitive theorists construct a model of mental structures and mental processing that assumes that REALITY IS CONSTITUTED IN THE MIND, (Griffin, 2000).

The intellectual roots of constructivist theory are symbolic interactionism and psychology.

Constructivitst use Walter Crockett's Role Category Questionnaire or RCQ to get "inside your head" and measure a respondent's degree of cognitive complexity. Scores can be as low as 3 or as high as 45, but typical adult populations average between 20 and 25.

Delia claims that cognitive complexity develops with a child’s chronological age and is reflected in progressively higher scores as youngsters grow older.

There are four kinds of knowledge structures of COGNITIVE SCHEMATA that work together to help us make sense of our experiences.

  1. PROTOTYPES are the broadest cognitive structure and are ideal or optimal examples of a category of people, situations, objects, (Woods, 2000).
You have prototypes of "great teachers', "nasty bosses" "best friend" and "two-faced people".

For each category, your prototype is the person who most exemplifies the whole category - the "ideal teacher" the "nastiest boss you ever worked for" the "best friend you ever had" and the "most conniving person you know".

That person who embodies the category is your prototype. We use prototypes to interpret others and how they fit into particular categories.

HERO HERIONE VILLAN

Woodcutter Little Red Riding Hood Wolf

2. PERSONAL CONSTRUCTS are the second broadest knowledge structure. Personal constructs are 'mental yardsticks" that allow us to measure a phenomenon on a particular dimension. Personal constructs are bipolar, or opposite scales of judgement, (Woods, 2000).

Whereas PROTOTYPES help us place a person or experience in a PARTICULAR CATEGORY, PERSONAL CONSTRUCTS allow us to go further and assess the person or experience in depth and in comparison to others along particular dimensions we consider relevant.

HERO /HERIONE VILLAN

Someone much admired Someone who is not admired

Someone with courage Someone without courage

Someone with distinguished valor Someone without valor

A prominent person A person of the lowest grade

Brave Depraved

Magnanimous Wicked

Intrepid Mean

Noble Criminal

Bold Hurtful

Audacious

Dauntless

Fearless

Gallant

3. STEREOTYPES are predictive generalizations. Stereotypes go beyond description that PROTOTYPES and PERSONAL CONSTRUCTS and make PREDICTIONS on how people will behave. When we stereotype a person, we prophesy what he or she will do based on the general group into which we have classified the individual, (Woods, 2000).

HERO /HERIONE VILLAN

Will behave well Will behave badly

Will help people Will hurt people

  1. SCRIPTS are guides to action, much like episodes in CMM theory. SCRIPTS are routines, or action sequences, that we have in mind about particular interactions. SCRIPTS are our understandings of how particular kinds of interactions are suppose to proceed - what happens, what comes first, what comes second, what comes third, (Woods, 2000).
Scripts for dating include that men are expected to initiate dates and plan activities on dates. Women are expected to defer to men's initiatives except in the realm of 'sexual activities'. (Prior and Merluzzi, 1985).

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HERO /HERIONE VILLAN

PROTOTYPES, PERSONAL CONSTRUCTS, STEREOTYPES AND SCRIPTS HELP US MAKE SENSE OF OUR INTERPERSONAL EXPERIENCES.

Led by Jessie Delia, constructivists view one's implicit theory of communication as a tool for aligning one's culture, cognition and communication.

Constructivism builds on how individuals build meanings.

It is how we make sense of the world, interaction and ourselves.

It is a HUMANISTIC THEORY and deals with individuals processing impressions.

Constructivism is a theory which emphasis different layers of cognition. It shares ONTOLOGICAL (the science of being) and EPISTEMOLOGICAL (the history or science of knowledge) assumptions.

SOURCES:

Wood, Julia. (1997) Communication Theories in Action: An Introduction Wadsworth Publishing Company.

McClish, Glen. (1997). Instructor's Manual to Accompany EM Griffin's A First Look at Communication Theory McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

Griffin, EM. (1997) A First Look at Communication Theory. McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

CONSTRUCTIVISM

There are four kinds of knowledge structures of COGNITIVE SCHEMATA that work together to help us make sense of our experiences.

1. PROTOTYPES are the broadest cognitive structure and are ideal or optimal examples of a category of people, situations, objects etc.

2. PERSONAL CONSTRUCTS are the second broadest knowledge structure. Personal constructs are 'mental yardsticks" that allow us to measure a phenomenon on a particular dimension. Personal constructs are bipolar, or opposite scales of judgement.

3. STEREOTYPES are predictive generalizations. Stereotypes go beyond description that PROTOTYPES and PERSONAL CONSTRUCTS and make PREDICTIONS on how people will behave.

4. SCRIPTS are guides to action, much like episodes in CMM theory. SCRIPTS are routines, or action sequences, that we have in mind about particular interactions. SCRIPTS are our understandings of how particular kinds of interactions are suppose to proceed - what happens, what comes first, what comes second, what comes third. etc.