Communication Accommodation Theory

Definition of the Theory

The communication accommodation theory (CAT) is a model that focuses on the language adaptations individuals make when interacting with others. Human interactions tend to minimize individual variations in social dialogues by realigning the speech through word selection. The approach emphasizes the variances in voice, nonverbal communication, and gestures, among other components of interaction.

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Importance of the Theory

The model depicts the tendencies exhibited when modifying the types of behavior during interaction. Leary and Baumeister (2017) argue that people exhibit diverse behavioral tendencies when attempting to regulate the basic social distinctions between their social groupings. According to Gallois, Ogay, and Giles (2005), the model accommodates the communication system activities of individuals from various social clusters. During conversations, communicators utilize their dynamic surroundings, and social differences to either get approval or portray a positive image. The CAT accommodation procedure is based on a convergence and divergence model. The former perspective explains the inclination to adapt to a person’s conduct to minimize social differences, whilst the latter explains an individual’s attention to societal rank differences and nonverbal contrasts.

Origin of the Theory

Howard Giles, a social psychologist, devised the concept in 1971 while examining the dynamics behind the speech differences between individuals of different socioeconomic classes (Gallois, Ogay, & Giles, 2005). Consequently, the idea evokes emotions that influence the psychological formation, resulting in the application of either convergence or divergence viewpoints during dialogues.
CAT was derived from the speech accommodation model used by psychologists to investigate human interactions. The speech principle states that during conversations, people prefer to adapt their speech to match the communication style of the listener…

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