Chapter 10
I chose to focus on the “reciprocity” concept in chapter ten, on page 127. Griffin describes that people tend to mirror their partner in terms of vulnerability and willingness to self-disclose (127). I did not realize how important reciprocity is in the beginning stages of relationship building. In order to have a balance of communication, people approach dialogue with caution. It is kind of like the ping-pong effect, where you send a message of vulnerability and your partner sends one (of similarity) back to you. We try to keep things going back and forth when sharing stories and experiences as to not let one person be the, “exclusive holder of potentially embarrassing information” (127). Now that I look back on many conversations with friends, I realize that the friends I felt most comfortable with were the ones that shared with me as much as I did with them; not more and not less. I always knew it was awkward when they shared less, because you feel like you are out on a limb all by yourself. But when others share more than you, that can also leave you feeling uncomfortable. As if you cannot meet them with empathy or reciprocate their feelings. Sometimes this is because you do not have much to relate on, other times maybe they are dominating the conversation. Berger does not typically, “anticipate long monologues at your first get-together”(Griffin, 127). But have you ever been on a first date, and you cannot seem to get a word in edge wise? It is kind of awkward, and at times you question why you are even there. Later on down the line as you get to know someone more intimately, uncertainty is much lower because patterns and familiarity are formed.


  1. The idea of reciprocity is certainly evident in the dominant U.S. culture. I'm not sure of the degree to which it's found across cultures. As you point out, people generally feel uncomfortable when others violate the norm of reciprocity, especially when they disclose too much. When I was an undergraduate (in the 1970s) I had a professor for a class called In Pursuit of Awareness. Students were expected to self disclose to some extent. But when the professor said, "I really like this trend of women not wearing bras, especially among students," I was taken aback. For me it was a norm violation of the professor-student relationship. And I definitely wore a bra to his class after that.

  2. Yes, I can definitely agree on the reciprocity concept, especially when it comes to self-disclosure. For whatever reasons, it seems we almost feel obligated to share information when someone shares something with us. I've noticed that. But I definitely knows what it feels like when you share information, and you feel like you are on that awkard limb all by yourself when you don't get much back. That's when I realize that sometimes I divulge too much information! ;)

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  4. In my circle of friends, there are some people who like to share everything. Then there are others who like to keep things to themselves. Sometimes I feel that even though some people share so much about themselves (like their sex lives for example), I do not want to share as much as they shared with them because it makes me feel uncomfortable, kind of how professor cyborg's example made her feel.

    I usually do not want to share more than the other person does, because I feel like either they think I am strange or that they think I am going on and on and that I shouldn't be disclosing as much as I am.

    One example where I have found the principle of reciprocity to be very common is in dating situations. I find that when a couple is initially getting to know each other, they disclose and reveal information to each other in similar manners in terms of how much they reveal. If both feel comfortable, they might start talking for hours and telling each other their life stories on the first date. However, when one person reveals a lot and the other person feels like they have crossed a boundary, things then tend to go downhill from there.

    I really like this principle of reciprocity because I believe it varies in different situations. Sometimes when you get really comfortable with the other person (ie your significant other or your immediate family) you may violate the norms of reciprocity. However, in most social situations, crossing that boundary isn't a good thing.