Have you ever had that friend that when you are standing in a group of people they just walk up behind you and rub their butt on your leg and you just start laughing but everyone else just has that look of awkwardness? Or you have those certain inside jokes with family and friends, which is what is a part of Symbolic Convergence Theory (SCT) by Ernest Bormann. What this theory is the sharing of similar interest through communication with the use of tasks, that allows the group to get work done, and social functions, help the group have fun and enjoy the work they are doing.
There are many aspect of this theory that help you to understand SCT better, one part of it is the dramatizing message that according to Bormann is the comments or actions done by a group member that is imaginative, paint a picture in your head and are usually not related to current situation. Such as in the anime show Beyblade, it’s one of my favorites, there’s a scene that happens in the ninth episode of the first season where the characters Kenny, Max, Tyson and Ray are talking about their other member Kai who has walked away and then out of nowhere Tyson yells, “Who’s up for some pizza!” This caused Kenny and Max to look at him like he was crazy but Ray started to laugh at it. Here’s a video with this scene, start watching at 17:40. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbvcUgH6RDc This is what a dramatizing message does it causes you to react.
This scene also is related to the next aspect that is the fantasy chain which is when others in the group contribute to the message and create a story around the message (Bormann). In this scene from Beyblade the others start to agree with Tyson on getting food and the story gets bigger. The same thing happens when working on a group project and someone brings up a TV show that they watch and the others say that they watch it too and then everyone starts talking about the show and what happens. These fantasy chains can even become public the more you share the story with other people outside the group, they may not get the reaction as quick but they still get it and share what they think about what was shared at the beginning.
The next aspect is the symbolic cue or something that triggers the memory of that first response to the fantasy chain and message (Bormann). This can be anything, for me it refers back to what I said about your friend coming up to you in a group of people and rubbing their butt on your leg. This is something my best friend, Devin, does to me often and every time she does it we just act like it’s a normal thing that happens, but to others its weird and awkward and they end up walking away then Devin and I just start laughing. It can be this or it can be someone saying something from the TV show that reminds everyone of the moment. This also can be inside jokes that you have with friends and family, for example the show Whose Line Is It Anyway, they have a lot of inside jokes that can happen in one show that they use throughout the rest of the show, check out this video of their inside jokes to get a better idea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_fMxs1xVJw
The final aspect of SCT is symbolic convergence where the group members develop a unique mind set, members become more of a team not a me, and there’s cohesiveness between them (Bormann). For example in high school I was a part of the dance team and being a part of that team and group we had to work as a team and make sure that everyone was on same page. So for the unique mind set of the dance team we had to be able to learn the moves and help each other out. We were a team and no one was to being anything outside the group to practice. As for working with cohesiveness, we had to learn to be one unit and work united. As a dance team you have to move as one unit not separate people, because if one person moves outside of the unit then points can be taken away from the total score. During the state championship there is a moment went all teams dance together as one unit in what is called the Grand Finally. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ni-Qm8f09o Here is a video of the 2012 state Grand Finally to show the cohesion that all the teams have even though they are competing against each other.
By going through these steps, even though we don’t even know it, can help us break down that wall we have when it comes to working in groups and helps us to realize that we all are reaching for the same goal. Like in school projects it’s getting a good grade and doing your part so that the others don’t fail. And then this can help there to be a better group communication by that fact that you found those similarities between members and you can talk to them outside the group project and just being able to count on them when you are in a tight spot.