Monday, October 28, 2013

Violating your Expectations

Who recognizes this group of "gentlemen"?

The men you see in the picture above you all belong to "Jackass". If you haven't already seen a sketch or stunt by them, then let me catch you up. These men have made a living by doing outrageous pranks, eating weird food, dressing up and doing just about anything for the sake of a laugh. Their humor can be quite crude but it's often hard to turn your head away.

(I'm going to let you in on a secret... I personally love them. Seriously, its my guilty pleasure.)

That said, what does this have to do with anything in Communication?

Well, I will tell you just that. Jackass is a prime example of Expectancy Violations Theory.

Take this for example:

If you watch this clip, you can tell how people start to make a scene because they don't think what the grandpa is doing is correct.

That's because people predict what will happen in an interaction, they expect it to be a certain way and when interactions don't match their predictions, their expectations are violated. In this particular example, people expect the grandpa to be responsible for the child and not talk to him in that manner. They also expect the child of maybe 12 years, to not be smoking or drinking and even if he did, to not be having that happen in public.

What we expect from a situation is often dictated by communication norms, what we have been taught to react like. Let's take a small example, people are expected to say "how are you?" when they first greet you and you are supposed to say it back. At least for most people, don't ya think?

Well, what if someone were to say to you "My parents are getting a divorce, I just got in a car accident, I got evicted from my house and my dog ran away" you could feel pretty awkward. What you expected was a "good, thanks".

You may ask yourself, "why the heck is this person telling me all this information?!" It's because norms have taught us that this communication interaction, is supposed to be short and simple.

I think you now have the base of this theory, when people act differently then what you think they would, they violate your expectations and we are forced to re-evaluate how we interact ourselves.

Jackass can be seen as maybe a negative violation. Or in more communication terms, it can have negative violation valence. Because they are creating a situation that can make people uncomfortable and force them to act in ways they wish they hadn't.

But all violations are not negative!

Take Jerome Jarre for example. He is a hit on "Vine" and often uses improv to surprise people. Here is just one of his hundreds of videos.

This man had a positive valence for this situation. I'm sure he didn't expect people to come up in the park and do such an act, but it was all in good humor so it became a positive violation.

Jerome's videos in all their fun are becoming so popular that he was just on Ellen.

(Side note: He said that he has had very few bad experiences with people when he makes these.)

This shows us, that it's not always bad to have your expectations sent for a spin.

Maybe you can think of a time when this happened to you?


My boss pranked me at work... Seriously, she did.

I came back from a trip and my stapler was in the middle of jello, everything was saran wrapped and post-it notes covered everything.

She violated my expectations BIG TIME. And I had a choice in how I was going to react. Thats because as part of this theory we have been talking about, there is Communicator Reward Valence. Sounds complicated, right? It's not! It just means that when the person that "violates" us, we consider their ability to reward or punish us.

So, I could have reacted by throwing a fit and demanding she takes it all down. But that would probably get me a nice unemployment notice. In this situation, I considered her position in how I would react.

You ask how I reacted.... I laughed it off! It was a harmless prank and it was fun to come back to. It felt like a warm welcome from people who I respect. It solidified my place in the team. I reacted in regards to what the violation was and who it was coming from and the relationship I have with that person.

So I ask you, take a chance when people violate your expectations. When people give out free hugs in the quad, go ahead and give them a big squeeze! Yes, it may violate your expectations but we have seen that this could be good!

I hoped you all enjoyed the ride I took you on to learn this theory and place it in context of pop culture!

thanks for reading :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

This is Moi

So, this is me and this is my first blog. I have wanted to write a blog for a long time, but have never found the right reason.

What do I post?

Will anyone care?

How often do I do this?

The list could go on and on. But finally, this communications class has given me the push that I needed. So, now you get to learn some things about me. Let's start with the general info:

I'm 21 years young.
I'm a Senior at Oregon State University.
I have on track to graduate with a B.S. in Speech Communications and a minor in Public Health.
I was born in Chicago, IL and raised in West Linn, Oregon.
I am a proud member of the Greek Community. 
I work on campus for International Programs.

Here is basically how I see myself:

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I am an extremely clumsy person... like it's bad. My family calls me a "Bull in a china shop" because of how many things I break/knockover/trip on/fall over. You get the picture.

Some of my favorite thing are as follows:


Seriously, I could eat the stuff for every meal... I cannot get enough of it.

I am obsessed with Elephants. My life will be complete the day that I own one. Seriously, it's on the bucket list.

This movie is the best. If you know me, you know my obsession with this film.

My number one in life is my family. I love them with all my heart. They are the ones that keep me sane and make me feel loved.

Now that you know a little bit more about me, I'm sure you are wondering... Why Communications?! What the heck am I going to do with that? Well, I can't quite answer that in complete detail but here is my story:

I started off coming into college and looking to do something with the Environment. I was inspired by the movie "The Day after Tomorrow" to pursue something in climatology and meteorology. While I was extremely interested by the topic being self-taught, I wasn't quite into the classes. I don't have much of a talent for math and while I am good at science, it no longer felt right.

I switched my focus then to Public Health. It seemed perfect at the time. It gave me the "science" feel I was looking for, without the commitment of a grand plan or immediate pursuing of a Doctorate. I loved it for a couple of years. I was doing well in the classes and enjoying the subject. After a while, I added Communications as a minor. It gave me a nice edge to be able to work better with people and the classes seemed interesting.

But, as I came into the final stretch of my Junior year, I had what I like to refer to as a "quarter-college crisis". I realized that while I loved the classes for Public Health, I didn't love what it could give me in the way of a career.

So I started thinking about what I was passionate about. The answers rounded into a lot of things, but some that stuck out were Film, Music and Popular Culture. Seriously, quiz me on just about any of these things and I will probably know the answer.

Public Health didn't really match this, but Communications does and since it was already my minor, it made the switch easy. I'm glad I had the courage to do it this late in the game. I love learning about how and why we talk and do the things we do. After all, you can't get me to shut up. The best things about the learning environment is that most people in your class are majors as well. It makes the discussions and that much more rewarding. As far as the future goes, I don't have the ideal job planned. I would love to start with an internship with a Communications Department of a major company. Kellogs, Dreamworks, ABC....?! Who knows! I also would love to inch my way into the Talent Realm of things. Working at a casting agency or for a talk-show. I don't know the next stop after college... but here's to taking the leap!

So know you know about me a little bit more about me and why I am in Communications. I hope in the series of this blog, that it will be infused with intelligence, comedy and always a dash of Pop Culture. Look out for pictures, gifs, memes, anything that you know and I know.

I hoped you enjoyed reading this and I can't wait for the next time!

P.S. ---Song obsession of the week- "Easy to Love" by the Jezabels. Check them out, awesome Indie Band from Australia.