Expectancy Violation Theory and Online Communications

Expectancy Violation Theory (EVT) is defined as the process in which messages are presented, interpreted, and internalized within human interaction. West and Turner (2004) state that

  • Human interaction is driven by expectations.
  • Expectations for human behavior are learned.
  • Evaluations of deviation are mediated by the reward value of the communicator (p. 140).

In the context of Electronic Mediated Communications (EMC), Expectancy Violation Theory provides the framework for understanding how communication behaviors are present in online environments. Humans expect certain behaviors in online groups to reduce uncertainty and create a predictable pattern of communication. Violating expected behavioral assumptions can create chaos, resentment, and in some cases changes in membership. EVT helps Internet users develop more meaningful relationships by offering an explanation for understanding some online behaviors.

West, R., & Turner, L. (2004). Introducing Communication Theory: Analysis and Application. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.




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