Discuss the theories of Newcomb and Osgood.

The Newcomb and Osgood Theory:

Social psychologist Theodore M. Newcomb took Heider’s idea of balance out of the head of one person and applied it to communication between people. He uses the term symmetry to distinguish it from balance theory and contends that we attempt to influence one another to bring about symmetry (or balance or equilibrium).

Newcomb postulates that attempts to influence another person are a function of the attraction one person has for another. In this respect Newcomb’s theory is more of a theory of interpersonal attraction than one of attitude change. If we fail to achieve symmetry through communication with another person about an object important to both of us, we may then change our attitude toward either the other person or the object in question in order to establish symmetry.

Osgood’s Congruity Theory.

The congruity model is a special case of Heider’s balance theory. Though similar to balance theory, it deals specifically with the attitudes persons hold toward sources of information and the objects of the source’s assertions. Congruity theory has several advantages over balance theory, including the ability to make predictions about both the direction and the degree of attitude change.

The congruity model assumes that “judgmental frames of reference tend toward maximal simplicity.” In addition to this maximization of simplicity, the assumption is also made that identity is less complex than discrimination of fine differences. Because of this, related “concepts” are evaluated in a similar manner.

In the congruity paradigm a person (P) receives an assertion from a source (S), towards which he has an attitude, about an object (O), towards which he also has an attitude. In Osgood’s model, how much P likes S and O will determine if a state of congruity or consistency exists.

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