McNair Summer Research Program

Faculty Mentor(s)

Jonathan Bowman

Publication Date



Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

Uncertainty reduction strategies are among the most fundamental motivations for human communication. When interacting with new people, uncertainty reduction is a crucial tool people use to learn about that person and determine what their relationship will be like. Research related to the strategies that humans use to reduce uncertainty typically focus on initial interactions and the early stages of relationships. Many recent studies tend to focus on the comparison between computer mediated communication and in-person interactions. In contrast, the current project focuses on the strategies people are most likely to employ when they are working to reduce uncertainty in face-to-face interactions, with attention to the way demographics (e.g., race or gender) might impact the choice of strategies an individual is most inclined to select. While there has been some research relating to the way demographics might impact uncertainty reduction, specific strategies of uncertainty reduction are relatively unexplored from a demographic perspective. To collect data for this research, 190 participants from multiple demographic backgrounds answered an online survey. In the questionnaire participants were asked about which uncertainty reduction strategies they use during initial interactions. Consistent with the research hypotheses, there were differences in the strategies different racial and age groups used. Counter to prediction, there were no differences found in the way participants from different genders used strategies, specifically self-disclosure.