Interpretive vs. Objective Theory: Communication Studies

1556 words 7 pages
Interpretive Theory Compared to Objective Theory
Lindsey Corradino
June 9, 2013
Texas Tech University

Interpretative and Objective Theory

Introduction Understanding the differences and similarities of interpretive and objective theory approaches is key to further expand one’s knowledge of communication studies. Author of A First Look at Communication Theory Em Griffin, describes interpretive theories as “the linguistic work of assigning meaning or value to communicative texts; assumes that multiple meanings or truths are possible” (Griffin, p.15). He also defines objective theory as “the assumption that truth is singular and is accessible through unbiased sensory observation; committed to uncovering cause-and-effect
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Or the study could have one truth or meaning, and be objective. The theoretical approach that the theorist takes can vary, and can be distinguished by all of the standards and which category they fall under.

Theoretical Tradition Griffin 2007 states that there are seven theoretical traditions: socio-psychological, cybernetic, rhetorical, semiotic, socio-cultural, critical, and phenomenological. Although there are seven, I believe that each of the different theory approaches are most similar to one of them; not meaning that they are not made up of all of the traditions, but merely that they are most related to one of them more so than the other traditions. First, objective theory is most like the socio-psychological tradition. I believe this is the case because the socio-psychological has predispositions that include attitudes, emotional states, personality traits, unconscious conflicts, and social cognitions, says Griffin 2007. This tradition also emphasizes the scientific or objective perspective while predicting and explaining cause and effect relationships. Next, the tradition that is most closely associated to interpretive theory is the phenomenological tradition. As discussed above, interpretive theory has a standard of using qualitative research, meaning that research conducted should be highly contextual, personal, and participants should be selected specifically to better help the researcher get a grasp of the


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