Interpersonal Communication

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If your girlfriend says she goes to the gym after work because you are never home, and you go out for drinks after work because she is working out, then your difference in perception is due to: A) Punctuation B) Stereotyping C) Fundamental attribution error D) Negativity effect E) Self-serving bias

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This situation is an example of A , a difference in perception arising out of punctuation. According to interpersonal communication theory, people assign different causes and effects to communication. For example, a teacher tells a student to stop talking, and the student responds that the teacher is always picking on...

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This situation is an example of A, a difference in perception arising out of punctuation. According to interpersonal communication theory, people assign different causes and effects to communication. For example, a teacher tells a student to stop talking, and the student responds that the teacher is always picking on her. The teacher thinks that she would not have to speak to the student if the student did not always have the tendency to speak out.

This means that people have different perceptions of the causes and effects of actions. Which action occurred first is a matter of personal opinion. In the example in the question, the subject goes out because his girlfriend is working out, and he thinks that her going to the gym caused his actions. She, on the other hand, feels that her boyfriend's going out causes her to go to the gym. This difference has led to a difficulty in their interpersonal communication.

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The best answer to this question is A.  This is an example of the problem of punctuation in interpersonal communication.  Punctuation problems arise because of the fact that communication is constant and people do not always agree with one another with respect to when that communication is punctuated.

When we are in a relationship, we are in fairly constant communication.  We typically try to understand the communication better by breaking it up into smaller pieces and segments.  This is punctuation.  We decide for ourselves when one interaction has started and another has ended.  The problem is that we do not always agree on where to put this punctuation.

In the scenario you are giving us here, the boyfriend and girlfriend do not agree on when the interaction started.  They do not agree on what action led to what reaction.  The girlfriend believes that the boyfriend’s absence came first.  She feels that she went to work out as a reaction to that absence.  The boyfriend sees things differently.  He thinks that the girlfriend went to work out first and that his going out for a drink was just a reaction to her action. 

Thus, the two of them do not agree on where to put the punctuation in this continuing interaction.

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