Criteria for Evaluating Communication Theories

Criteria for Evaluating Communication Theories


Theories are lenses that make it easier for people to understand things around them.  In communication phenomena, for people to understand it, several theories are put in place that explains communication. Theories help the researchers;  understand and organize experiences during transmission, select the behavior that will get studied, expand and broaden how individuals understand the communication, predict a situation in communication, and how the case can get controlled.  Theories also challenge the social and cultural believes during communication, and they change how individuals think and relate to each other. The researchers have come up with different criteria for evaluating a theory. This criterion explains the strength and the shortcoming of every theory, thus making individuals understand it better. For a theory to be considered good, the researchers and experts have to take it through a series of evaluations.


Scope referrers to the depth of communication behavior explained in theory.  Every theory has boundaries that limit its scope. Therefore, even if the theory should explain most of the communication to be meaningful, some limitations explain the limitations of the theory’s scope (Richrd & Lynn, 2010).  Uncertainty reduction theory explains the encounter of strangers. Generally, the interaction between strangers is for a short period, but people spend their lives meeting and interacting with new people.  Previously the theory suggested a limited scope, but current researchers have expanded it to cover relationships and dates and online dating and relationships.

Logical consistency

The theory should make sure that the logic is consistent and its explanations make sense. Therefore, theories’ arguments and explanations should not contradict each other. The theories should explain how the concepts work together, and the results yielded for their interactions (Richrd & Lynn, 2010).  The statements put together should describe what the theory tries to prove. The uncertainty reduction theory proves that when people meet, they have to study each other to interact freely. Therefore, people must obtain information about their newly met people to reduce the uncertainty for a relationship to start.  The theories explanations are logic and do not contradict each other as it explains the people’s behavior when they first meet to the point of starting the relationship.


Parsimony criteria state that the explanation provided by the theory must be simple to understand.  Only concepts that fully explain the theories arguments should get included.  These show that even when there is one concept that describes a theory, it should go. The theory should avoid explaining unnecessary concepts while explaining its arguments and ideas (Richrd & Lynn, 2010). The uncertainty reduction theory is simple and easy to understand.  It presents its logic simply by using sure pictures that prove its usefulness in communication. The simplicity in it makes it easy for people to understand what the theory explains about contact.  However, since communication theories and their behaviors deal with complex communication phenomena, the theory has to be broad to cover its wide range. The theories must be simple without compromising the information required to explain an idea.


The utility criterion explains the theories usefulness and their practical value in communication. A good theory must have a utility that explains thoroughly about communication and people’s behavior. The criterion helps the researcher with information that was previously missing about contact (Richrd & Lynn, 2010). It also combines different pieces of information so that researchers can see a pattern that was not clear. The uncertainty reduction theory is practical in day-to-day communication because people interact and meet new people through businesses, dating, schools, and social media platforms.  People understand how to behave around new people. Also, people study other people’s behavior before establishing new relationships with them. Therefore the interaction between individuals is made easy. The theory has consequently changed our thinking as well as our behaviors.


Testability is the ability to test the effectiveness and the accuracy of the theory.  The criterion primarily concentrates on the hostile areas on the concepts that are central to a theory. The ideas explaining the theories show how accurate the theory is. The uncertainty reduction theory explains the behavior of people when they meet new people (Richrd & Lynn, 2010). In this case, when people want to establish a relationship, they will study each other’s behavior through interaction or asking about them. People who don’t want to establish a relationship will not be interested in other people’s behavior or feelings. Also, self-monitoring is a behavior explaining how one should behave when they meet new people.  Therefore the testability of the theory is possible as it gets framed on objective epistemology.


Heurism criterion explains whether the theory provides room for more research and thinking by a theory. Most theories have been used in more studies previously, giving the researcher more space to think critically and be innovative (Richrd & Lynn, 2010). The uncertainty reduction theory has played a significant role in establishing many research activities. Many researchers have engaged themselves in cultural research in the desire to know the behavior of several communities. Through the study, people have learned what other culture entails. The research, therefore, shows the behaviors of different communities. Consequently, it makes it easier for people to interact with each other without disrespecting the cultures. The culture of various communities portrays different believes that must get respected.

Test of times

The criterion can get used after some time since the establishment of a theory. The theory has to show its usefulness since the time it got discovered to date. Uncertainty reduction theory was conceptualized and tested in the 1970s. To date, the theory has attracted more research in communications (Richrd & Lynn, 2010). For example, the theory has triggered studies about culture and communication. Therefore, uncertainty reduction theory through this criterion is a proven theory. Test of times criterion cannot get used to assess new theories. Therefore, the criterion is the last process of evaluating a theory since it must pass through other criteria to survive.


Theories can get evaluated and their strengths and weaknesses discovered. Some theories get considered excellent and effective through the evaluation, while others are disbanded if they do not meet the required criteria. When experts evaluate theories, it is essential to use the same evaluation criteria to get accurate results. Some measures favor some theories, and if the researchers use different criterion’s on a theory, they will get contradicting results. Therefore there is a need to use one similar criterion when assessing a theory.