Anxiety/uncertainty Management - Social Categorization of Strangers

Social Categorization of Strangers

The next seven axioms of this theory focus on how people order their social environments into categories. When people categorize themselves, they become aware of being members of ingroups and outgroups, which generates anxiety and uncertainty. People tend to have more categories for their ingroup than they do for an outgroup, but the more familiar they are with an outgroup, the more categories they see. The categories that people create for outgroups will lead to expectations about the behavior of a member of that group, which can be either positive or negative. Expectations then help people predict, accurately or inaccurately, a stranger's behavior.

Axiom 16: An increase in our understanding of similarities and differences between our groups and strangers' groups will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to accurately predict their behavior. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, we are not mindful, and only for strangers who strongly identify with their groups. (Gudykunst, 2005, p. 299)
Axiom 17: An increase in the personal similarities we perceive between ourselves and strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p. 299)
Axiom 18: An increase in our ability to categorize strangers in the same categories they categorize themselves will produce an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p. 300)
Axiom 19: An increase in the variability we perceive in strangers' groups will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p. 300)
Axiom 20: An increase in perceiving that we share superordinate ingroup identities with strangers will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p. 300)
Axiom 21: An increase in our positive expectations for strangers' behavior will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our confidence in predicting their behavior. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and a maximum thresholds, and we are not mindful. (Gudykunst, 2005, p. 300)
Axiom 22: An increase in our ability to suspend our negative expectations for strangers' behavior when they are activated will produce a decrease in our anxiety and an increase in our ability to predict their behavior accurately. Boundary Conditions: This axiom holds only when we are mindful of the process of communication, and our anxiety and uncertainty are between our minimum and maximum thresholds. (Gudykunst, 2005, p. 300)

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