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Communication Accommodation Theory

  • By: Howard Giles
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Communication accommodation theory (CAT) has much currency in the broadly applied arenas of interpersonal and intergroup communication, including in health contexts. Accommodating others has been a prime route whereby people can communicatively reduce (via convergent tactics) or magnify (via divergence) social differences between themselves and others in face-to-face interaction and through new electronic media. The effect of converging toward, or “approximating” another, has been shown not only to enhance perceived similarities between speakers, but also to increase liking, enabling the accommodator to be attributed as more competent, likeable, and trustworthy and, by so doing, fostering cooperation. Such tactics, when enacted by patients and health care providers, can positively impact rapport, health status, information-seeking, and compliance with medical regimes.

Such accommodative adjustments can have value connotations. Upward ...

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