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Paper 1(REEl Paper or Communicatio Crash Paper

Communication 2050-002
Paper 1( REEL Paper or Communication Crush Paper)
Fartun Issaq
Salt Lake Community College

Fartun Issaq
Communication 2050-002

Shirine McKay
November 1, 2016
The movie called Safe Haven is one of my favorite romance movies. It is one of those
unique movies by Nicholas Spark that will have you in tears at the end of the movie. For this
paper, I will talk about this movie and how it uses the Social Penetration Theory. I want to
describe how Katie, the girl protagonist and Alex, male protagonist go to the process of strangers
to an intimate couple.
Movie Background:
Katie runs away from her abusive police husband who is alcoholic and comes to a small
town in North Carolina called Southport. She gets a job as a waitress and buys a small house to
keep a low profile.
Alex, handsome local convenience store owner who has two children named Lexie and
Josh. His wife recently died of cancer. He is engaged with his kids life and his store. Katie looks
as if she wanted to avoid forming personal ties until a series of personal issue draws. She forms
two relationships one being Alex and his kids and second being the caring and warmth of
Southport community. Katie slowly lets her guard down and becomes easily attached to Alex and
his kids.
Theory Summary and Author Background:
The Social penetration theory was proposed by Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor(1973).
According to the theory, Strangers go from being unknown to well-known through a series of
steps that we can see through conversational interactions(Turner and West and,2010, p.168).
Communication requires us to trust and sometimes it takes time for a relationship to develop
from being shallow non-intimate level to where the relationship is more intimate. For humans,
first interactions are important because it is how we make our judgments through a person. When
a person gives us a positive interaction our thoughts of them will lead a more positive interaction
and soon intimate knowledge and levels of trust are reached over time, involving more
interaction as well as length and quality
The social penetration theory states people go from casual strangers to intimate
conversations as trust develops through repeated of positive interactions. Revealing information

about ourselves is called self-disclosure( p.171). People soon start to learn about us as we open
up to them and how far of the information about us we want to provide.
I thought that this theory worked well for this movie because I started to notice the sights
of description.
Both Altman and Taylor developed this theory in many ways one being that humans
interaction happen daily and it is a matter of interpersonal self-disclosure. According to
Introducing Communication Theory book self-disclosure needs a purpose for revealing
information to a significant nature (West and Turner, 2010 p. 171).
Altman and Taylor believed that people were the comparison of a multi-layered onion.
According to the theory, we know what to share and whom to share it with. Breadth is what
people see every day of who you are. Depth is referred as the deeper layer of intimate
information like background information. Altman and Taylor used this because like the book
says intimacy cannot be achieved without reciprocity (West and Turner, 2010 p.173).
Analysis of Conflict using the Theory:
Katie and Alex start as a stranger when she first arrived in town. Before they met their
public image were just women who just recently moved to Southport. for Alex, it was known as
a widower man who owns a convenience store who has two children.
At first, Katie is what people described as a closed book because when Alex offered a
kind gesture of giving her a bike in the middle of the night because she traveled through town
with foot she refused. Even when the scene where she ordered two heavy paints from his
convenience and decide she would carry it all the way back to her house.
For Katie, her trajectory was through his kids. Meanwhile, for Alex, his way was
through offering his nice gesture like giving her a ride all the way back to her house or when he
ordered paints for her even though he didnt sell any. Eventually, she started to what the theory
describe as reciprocity meaning she returned the openness by inviting him into her home after
asking her if she liked the paints.
The Orientation stage took place when Alex invited her to the family vacation day. He
revealed small parts of what happened to his wife. In that scene, she doesnt really talk about her
past life but she just listens.

More reciprocity took place when Alex asks her to go canoeing with him in the lake. But
his arrangements didnt go well. It started raining and they had to go a restaurant for the nearest
shelter which they started to have a normal conversation and just talk.
Katie eventually knew that her past was going to hunt her down. When Alex confronted
and figured out that she was wanted by the police. She didnt know how to explain to him. What
he did not know was that her abusive husband is a policeman who was looking for her.
Eventually, she had to open up to him to keep the relationship going. Thats what the theory
describes as cost/ reward ratio which is the balance between positive and negative relationship
experiences as stated in the book (p.175).
Both characters, in this case, did have a lot to do with the onion analogy. I have presented
that in communication it requires trust. In Katies and Alexs case both characters needed to
reveal the core to each other which they do eventually. Their level of intimacy according to the
onion analogy was dating. Katies past prevented them from going forward. After figuring out
who she is and she explained herself the relationship continued.
Theory Recommendation:
From both perspectives it is very difficult to analysis because the action they both have
done would have damaged a lot of relationships. The main problem I saw with this situation was
no trust. If I was Katie I would have done the same about not revealing my past to anyone.
When Alex found the wanted picture of her, the action he took to end the relationship was
reasonable because having a criminal around children isnt logical from his perspective.
To achieve greater depth and breadth of intimacy for my Katie I would recommend that
she know the consequence for what she wants to develop. Instead of running away from her
problem with Alex she should face them and tell him the truth. My suggestion for Alex gets an
explanation from her before jumping to conclusions and letting your angry driving away from
Both characters are in the affective stage of their relationship which is social penetration
that spontaneous and quite comfortable for relational partners(p.178) . They should start talking
about private and personal matters. There should be less criticism but it is about intimacy. Both
of them should learn to trust each other and always communicate.

Social Penetration Theory claims that as relationships develop so does a person
communication from shallow to deeply personal topics, slowing penetrating the both
communicators public character to reach their core personality or sense of self (Altman and
Taylor,1973) . For this theory there are specific stages for each kind of relationships whether it is
friend, co-worker or more intimate relationship like marriage. Every single day there so many
stranger walking by but when you interact with one it always important how interaction went
whether they saw as positive or negative way. There are so many things this theory taught me. It
may seem common sense to me but as it went in depth I didnt realize that a theory like Social
Penetration is how we apply to life for example the onion analogy. It also taught me that this
theory seems like it will make relationship stronger and two people can communicate more. It is
also important to remember that your first interaction is how people want to interact with you in
the future. If they see you negative way they will continue seeing you in a negative way. But this
theory is trying to create positive way so people keep interacting more and soon develop a
relationship stage.
In the future if I form a more intimate it. I will more likely depend on this theory because
it is the key for couple to be happier and open up to each other. It also important to note that
Communication is what forms trust.

Reference Page:
Social Penetration - Interpersonal Communication Context. (2001, February 14). Retrieved
October 27, 2016, from
Social Penetration Theory. (2010, February 14). Retrieved October 27, 2016, from Penetration Theory
West, R. L., & Turner, L. H. (2007). Introducing communication theory: Analysis and
application (Fourth ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.