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Communication Theory of Identity

  • By: Michael L. Hecht & Yu Lu
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

The communication theory of identity (CTI) was developed by communication scholar Michael Hecht. CTI is a layered theory that conceptualizes identity as experienced at multiple levels or layers, multifaceted and dynamic, and communicated both verbally and behaviorally in diverse ways evolving over time. CTI provides an integrative framework for understanding the individual, social, and collective aspects of self and has numerous implications for health.

Four Layers of Identity

The most important contribution of CTI is its layered perspective on identity. Identity is conceptualized as experienced at multiple layers, reflecting the person (self), communication (enactment), relationship, and community. The corresponding four layers of identity are labeled as personal, enacted, relational, and communal.

The personal identity is an individual's self-concept or self-image. It concerns how one feels about and defines ...

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