Different scholars throughout centuries have studied the logic of how individuals communicate and varieties of theories have been put forward to elaborate the matter; however, none has been more popular than the Symbolic Interactionism Theory. Developed in 1934 by George Herbert Mead, the approach suggests that individuals behave according to descriptive cognitions as opposed to objective truth. In other words, all individuals in a society communicate through the premise of connecting symbols that they often encounter in their day-to-day lives to what they believe is a reality, hence, affecting human behavior. The first significant guidance towards understanding this theory would be based on having knowledge of what makes individuals develop a perspective of their surroundings from symbols that give meaning to them. The theory is based on three major principles the first being acceptability, which is defined as the worldwide application of the approach. The theory works on every race, gender or localization. The second principle is based on symbols and their interactions consequently suggesting that an event, emblem or behavior is directly interpreted to give a common meaning. The third principle is emotions. Throughout history, this theory has been used to explain how communication is based on more than actual facts and is more significant in the current era where globalization has made the world a global village (Herbert 45).
The principles of the theory address social relations as well as cognition with reference to the surrounding. The first principle suggests that the human mind has the capability to use signals from its environs that affect emotions and after a long time, these signals change into perceptions. This is one of the greatest strengths of this theory since several studies in communication highlight the fact that individuals use their environment to determine how they make decisions. Over the eighty-two years of its existence, academicians have applied this key principle strong suit considering that it is evident that human beings have always had the capabilities of free will that is affected by premise and not the totality of fact. The bias nature of the human character forms the basis of this theory as highlighted in the second principle of emotions that are strictly based on personal understanding derived from a period of being exposed to particular elements of the environment. The theory has offered extensive answers to questions in the field of communication about why individuals or the society has been placed on courses that may be understood as logical but not factual, consequently explaining human behavior.
Despite the theory’s relevance, its biggest weakness suggested for years has been that the Symbolic Interactionism approach provides limited information about an in-depth explanation of what drives the logic to attaching symbols to reality to form a basis of decision-making. In addition to this, in some cases, the view of the world changes from some perceptions that are derived from other individuals conscious and self-reflective when the theory is shifted to explain a group of peoples’ behavior to form its major critic point. On the other hand, due to limited testability, the hypotheses presented by this theory remain unrefuted considering the fact that the principles used to formulate it are highly plausible.
Blumer, Herbert. Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and method. Univ of California Press, 1986.